Kawaii concrete? Japanese retailer selling cuddly tetrapods for a limited time only

When I first chanced upon these soft toys, I was really confused. By the word tetrapod, I thought the oddly shaped plushies were meant to resemble an entire classification of animals including myself and my neighbor’s cat. However, after doing some research, I discovered that tetrapods are actually concrete structures used in coastal water irrigation. And some genius decided that these should be made into limited-edition soft toys that belong in your room instead of next to the ocean.

These peculiar plushies are available for pre-order between October 18 to 26 only, so if you’re a fan of these huge solid blocks of concrete that cover a worryingly large amount of Japan’s coastline, hurry and grab them whilst stocks last!

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The plot thickens: Pizza Hut Japan’s feline employees disappear overnight, forcing store closure 【Video】

Back in August we brought you the news that Pizza Hut in Japan was now under the control of four bossy cats. Along with millions of other pizza and cat fans, we couldn’t get enough of the adorable antics of Tenchō, Hime, Dora and Detch as they manned (catted?) the phones, were startled by the sound of the cash register, and rode a rumba around the store.

This week, the chain announced the emergency closure of its Pizza Cat store, citing the mysterious disappearance of the four plucky feline workers. Where could they have gone? And why? We did some detective work to try and find out.

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North Korea bars foreign tourists to prevent spread of Ebola

With a couple of months having passed since summer vacation, many of us are feeling the need for a few days off. After all, who doesn’t like getting away from their workaday routine for the liberating excitement of a few days taking a trip someplace new, like North Korea?

But if your short-term travel wish list includes a trip to the northern reaches of the Korean Peninsula, you might want to postpone your departure, because as of October 24, no foreign tourists are getting in, due to a new government policy to prevent the spread of Ebola to the communist country.

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2-D anime characters so cute, you just gotta pinch their cheeks

Anime fans in Japan have been trying to bring 2-D characters to our world, most notably with the help of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. But now a recent meme brings a more wholesome and easily-attainable approach. All you have to do is draw your favorite anime or manga character on your hand and give it a tug. If you’ve ever encountered a fictional character that was so cute you were overcome with the uncontrollable urge to pinch its cheeks, this is the meme for you!

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will support EIGHT-PLAYER offline battles 【Video】

Earlier today, Nintendo released a very special video listing 50 facts about the upcoming Wii U version of chaotic brawler Super Smash Bros. The 35 minute-long video contains a wealth of information for fans of the series to drool over, but perhaps the most exciting announcement of all is the fact that up to eight players can now take part in the same battle.

Time to buy some extra controllers, folks!

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How to make Ghost Forest Yakisoba and haunt your noodles for Halloween

Japanese cooking can be a little tricky, since many recipes involve a lot of complex prep work. Yakisoba, though, is a snap. The stir-fried noodle dish is quick and easy, and unlike more rigidly traditional Japanese fare, there’s a lot of room for putting your own spin on it by fiddling with the standard ingredient list of pork, carrots, and cabbage.

For example, with a few simple tweaks for Halloween you can whip up an awesome batch of Ghost Forest Yakisoba.

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Is that cute girl’s profile pic really anything like her ‘real’ face?

This compilation of the makeup transformations of Japanese girls has sparked debate on whether anyone shows their ‘real’ face on the internet any more, and just what counts as a ‘real’ face these days anyway. Read on to see more of the startling power of makeup and good lighting, and find out the point these women are trying to make.

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Ken Akamatsu bemoans Britain’s child pornography sentencing

“The days of quietly drawing whatever you like are already over”

Robul Hoque, a 39-year-old resident of Middlesbrough, England, was recently given a suspended sentence of nine months in prison for possession of child pornography when investigators found “manga” drawings of schoolgirls on his computer. The sentence is suspended so long as Hoque follows the court’s guidelines for two years, but manga artist Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima! Magister Negi Magi) disapproved of the conviction and reacted to the news on Twitter.

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Another Chinese knock-off has hit the market, this time it’s a city!

This year, we’ve learned that the provincial and local governments in China are spending their money on truly extravagant things. Two different areas in China have invested in special “towns” trying to elevate their cities with modernization and attract a number of wealthy people. While those towns are batting .500 on the success rate, with one of them already becoming a burgeoning ghost town, what other ideas do the governments have to bring the cash into their cities?

How about a recreation of the most romantic city in the world, Venice, canals and all?

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Detached female hand iPhone cases are here to provide…emotional comfort?

As awesome as smartphones are, do they really help us to better communicate with one another? Sure, it’s nice to be able to instantly talk with anyone, regardless of whether you’re at home or out and about, but there are certain things we lose by doing it with the help of technology. Even as mobile phones’ audio and video capabilities continue to improve, they’re still not perfect. Without talking face-to-face, you can’t pick up on every facial expression, hear each subtle change in inflection, or reach out and hold someone’s hand should the conversation turn emotional or romantic.

Unless you’re using this iPhone case that’s an eerily detailed replica of a human hand.

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Cats trapped in circles! Japanese blogger shows the best way to outsmart your kitty【Photos】

In a documentary about the making of Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki is shown in his studio explaining how he wants a certain scene to look. When the dragon’s jaws are wrenched open, he says, it should look like a dog clenching its teeth, gums bared. Faced with blank stares at this analogy, he asks the animators if any of them have a dog. “I had a cat once”, offers up one young man. “A cat!” exclaims Miyazaki in despair, before whisking the entire team off to a vet’s surgery to have a closer look at some canine mouths.

Cats and dogs, as we know, are quite different, and one thing that sets them apart is cats’ contrariness. A dog’s reward is pleasing you, while a cat’s reward is pleasing itself. Getting a cat to do what you want, therefore, can be extraordinarily difficult. Unless, that is, you can manage to convince your cat that it made the decision all by itself.

From Japanese cat blog guremike, we bring you: the power of the magical cat-attracting circle. 

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New smartphone game turns your photos of real-world cats into in-game warriors

When designing a role-playing video game, there’s a tricky balance designers have to maintain. Many of today’s gamers aren’t interested in scouring the world map and non-essential dungeons to recruit new party members, but giving the player too few characters to play with makes the game feel dull and lacking in scale.

So the question is, how do you make the process of searching for new companions fun? If you’re mobile developer GeePlus, you let them take photos of cats on their smartphones, then turn those cute snapshots into in-game warriors.

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You’ll never want to stop cleaning with this penguin mop topper

There are a lot of things in this world that are better done with a buddy – getting coffee, taking walks, watching movies…cleaning. Yes, I said cleaning! While cleaning is probably the most dreaded chore out there, with a “Penguin SuiSui” cleaning partner you might never stop polishing those floors.

The Penguin SuiSui (suisui is a mimetic word expressing smoothness or unhindered work) is not like a high-tech Roomba, who will do the cleaning for you. He is, however, a low-tech buddy that will just keep you excited for the task at hand. He’s a fabric penguin with a hole in his back so you can slip him over the stick of your sweeper and he can swivel around the floor with you as you clean.

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Omedetou! Toyama Bay is inducted into The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club

Toyama Bay (Toyama-wan, 富山湾), nestled between Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures in the Hokuriku region of Japan, was formally inducted into the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club on October 19. The bay is only the second place in Japan following Miyagi Prefecture’s Matsushima to be officially recognized by the global association. After doing some digging, we’ve discovered the incredible charms that the bay has to offer. Love mountains? Check. Love seafood? Double check. Keep reading after the jump to fall in love with Toyama Bay for yourself!

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Sorry Bambi – Venison burgers and hot dogs coming to Japanese fast food chain

While it doesn’t have nearly as many outlets as McDonald’s, MOS Burger, or Lotteria, Japan’s Becker’s hamburger chain provides a more upscale dining experience. Sure, it’s still fast food, but Becker’s prides itself on high quality ingredients, such as its fresh-baked bread, and relaxing ambiance.

Still, without the huge advertising budget of its larger rivals, Becker’s often flies under the radar of burger fans. They’ve got our undivided attention right now, though, as the chain is about to start selling venison burgers.

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Awesome iPhone cases made with traditional Hakata textiles give your device a timeless look

Aside from some of the best tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen in Japan, Fukuoka is famous for Hakata ori textiles. The merchant Mitsuda Yazaemon returned from his travels to China in 1235 with the techniques he would put to use in making the woven patterns, which proved to be so prized that they were even given as tribute to the shogun.

Hakata ori is still popular today, and it can often be seen in the sashes Fukuoka residents use to tie their kimono. If you’re looking for a more modern use, though, you can now order elegant Hakata ori covers for your iPhone, iPad, or Kindle.

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5 powerful reasons to be a woman in Japan 【Women in Japan Series】

It’s no secret that Japan continually lands at the bottom in global gender gap reports. In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 101 in regard to women’s participation in the economy and politics. In 2013, Japan placed 105 (out of 135 countries), putting it behind Burkina Faso in gender equality.

Based on these findings, you may think it doesn’t seem like Japan is a very good country for women, but you’d be wrong. While there are huge shortcomings in gender gaps in the workplace, economy and politics, in other sectors of Japanese society some would would argue that Japanese women have “too much” power.

Let’s take a look at five areas where women are most powerful in Japan.

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Crimson-covered Hitachi Seaside Park: Beautiful, awesome, and easy to get to from Tokyo【Photos】

Last year, we sat amazed as we looked at pictures of Hitachi Seaside Park, where every autumn a hill covered in kochia shrubs turns a dazzling shade of crimson.

Then we sat crying as a storm on the day we’d planned to visit the park washed out our travel plans.

After 12 long months of moping, this week we finally got a second chance, and this time the weather was perfect. Interested in making the trip for yourself? Read on and we’ll tell you how.

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Bus driver in China makes pit stop to buy fish for supper, passengers perplexed

On October 20 in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province, a bus driver on his usual route made a sudden, unscheduled stop. The reason? To purchase some tasty-looking fish from a street vendor. According to passenger and eyewitness reports, the driver suddenly pulled to a stop by the roadside (no bus stop in sight!) and hopped down from his bus to purchase “several” fish, before hopping back into his driver’s seat and resuming his route. But was this a sudden impulse buy, or did the driver just really, really need some fish?

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New first-class bus seats have built-in massage functions, internet access and… dictionary

Starting soon, you’ll be able to make the journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo with about as much style as you can get while riding an excruciatingly long night bus.

The Nisshi Nippon Railroad Co., which confusingly also apparently operates a bus line or two, says it will be installing the new “Premium Seats” on a very small selection of its newest buses. While we’ll admit there’s nothing all that luxurious about a bus seat, no matter how far the seat reclines and how fancy the amenities, this one comes with a pretty extensive list of perks:

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