To hike or hibernate for the winter? The woes of a Hokkaido University student

Heavy winds, low visibility and snow drifts the size of houses. What do you do? Go to that lecture at 8:30 or grab as many blankets as you can and binge watch Dragon Ball? Although the answer might be pretty simple for some university students in Japan, the ones in Hokkaido know there is no such thing as a snow day. Freshman students at Hokkaido University are sometimes amazed to encounter the incredibly snowy weather conditions that face them on their way to class. There is not much else they can do but bundle up, snap a few pictures and share them with the Internet.

We’ve collected some of the best pics taken by Hokkaido’s students this winter. Would you go to class in this weather?

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Six-year-old heroine saves friend from drowning in a 40-minute endurance rescue

What does one need in order to be a hero? Could it be a strong buff body, supernatural abilities, fancy gadgets or extraordinary intellect? Perhaps none of the above.

While adults in the world are busy fighting and hurting each other, a little girl in China’s Sichuan Province saved a friend from drowning with her bare hands and a strong passionate heart. Read her heroic tale after the jump!

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Meet the girl who’s wrapped up in dreams of sushi

If you’ve been captivated by a bizarre breed of sushi cats or fallen in love with a cup-clinging girl called Fuchiko, chances are you’ll soon be swooning over a young lady who likes to hang out inside pieces of sushi.

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Disney Store is all grown up with new branch designed for adult women opening in Tokyo

Disney enjoys broad popularity with Japanese children, with tykes across the nation regularly getting excited for the studio’s animated films and begging their parents to take them to Tokyo Disneyland. This isn’t a recent development, though. Disney’s been a hit with kids for decades now, and while the age of many fans who grew up watching Mickey, Minnie, and their pals has changed, that doesn’t mean their love for the cartoon characters has.

That’s why this spring a new branch of the Disney Store is opening up in Tokyo, and while the staff won’t be turning away little girls at the door, it’s really being designed for adult women.

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Cute anime railway girls keep passengers company on Tokyo Skytree train

Japan is no stranger to weird and wonderful product collaborations between companies. We’ve seen Mos burger x Mister Donut creations, a Hello Kitty invasion of The Very Hungry Caterpillar books and even Sailor Moon girls teeing up with sanitary pads.

So when the ten-year anniversary of the Tetsudou Musume (Railway Girls) anime rolled around this year, their new collaboration could have taken them anywhere. Thankfully, the girls have gone the more conventional route – by tying up with an actual train and riding together with you in 2-D form inside the carriages.

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Awesome carved eraser stamps are something to marvel, but leave some skeptical

The world is full of amazingly talented artists – people who can take ordinary everyday objects and make something extraordinary. Without question, Japan has its own fair share of talent, what with high school students creating beautiful murals with nothing but a stick of chalk, artists sketching insanely detailed drawings using a simple ball-point pen, and the awe-inspiring snow sculptures that are constructed at Sapporo’s snow festival each year.

Now, we have insanely detailed, hand-carved stamps made from erasers setting the internet abuzz.

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Dress like your Barbie in a cute, limited edition retro lingerie/bikini set

Are you a Barbie girl in a Barbie world? If your answer is yes, you’ve probably been dreaming of this day your whole life. Finally, you can look like your Barbie doll!

We’re not talking about getting thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery to look like Real Barbie or wearing Barbie heads in your shoes. But we are talking about wearing undergarments that match those of your Barbie doll. You’ll be like twins!

The Japanese lingerie and apparel shopping website Peach John, has a lingerie line called Yummy Mart. Yummy Mart is teaming up with Barbie and LAFORET, a lingerie shop in Harajuku, to bring you a limited edition collection of Barbies and underwear to match!

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New Sailor Moon pens: “Magic not included”

The release of the reanimated Sailor Moon series has brought with it an influx of new and exciting merchandise, much to the joy of fans old and new alike. Jewelry, apparel, accessories… even pens that look like our beloved Scouts’ transformation wands.

But for those of you who were wishing to fight some evil by moonlight, you may be in for a bit of disappointment.

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Cosplay as Sailor Moon’s classmates with official uniforms of the anime heroines’ schools

When most anime fans think of the core cast members of Sailor Moon Crystal, they picture them in their sailor-style combat suits. But while they do indeed don those brightly color-coded getups when it’s time to do battle with the forces of evil, the teen heroines spend most of their week dressed in the uniforms of ordinary junior high students.

If you’ve ever wanted to cosplay not as Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, or Venus, but as their alternate non-magical girl identities, now’s your chance, as you can now buy official uniforms of the schools attended by the Sailor Senshi.

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Former AKB48 idol’s crowdfunding campaign includes date rewards

The former AKB48 idol Anna Mori is crowdfunding her first photobook after recently turning 20 years old (the “age of majority” in Japan, similar to turning 18 in the U.S.) and quickly raised 2,000,000 yen (about US$16,957) with a little help from some unique backer rewards. Mori offered threedates for backers who paid 200,000 yen (US$1,695).

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Man attempts to create ancient moss-covered Gundam ruins: “It’ll only take a few years.”

Japan has an interesting relationship with moss. From the “Moss Covered Forest” that inspired Princess Mononoke, to the marimo “moss balls” found in Hokkaido, to MOS Burger that has tragically deterred foreigners for decades by its name alone.

But it’s one man’s quest to use moss in a new way that has recently piqued the interest of the internet. In the hopes of creating realistic figurines that look like they’ve been abandoned for centuries, he wants to get them covered in moss the old fashioned way: by waiting for years.

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Dragon Quest creator reveals secrets behind mysterious ending

The creator of legendary RPG series Dragon Quest has spilled the beans on the mysterious ending to the third game that still had fans puzzled over 25 years since its original release. Read on to find out, but beware – some things are best left a mystery.

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The Japan Self-Defense Forces have their own kind of Coming-of-Age ceremony and it’s pretty cool

If you haven’t heard yet, last week 20-year-olds all over Japan dressed up and gathered together on January 12 for their government official Coming-of-Age ceremonies. The event takes place every year for any young adult who turned 20 in the previous year. It’s an event that signifies their entry into adulthood and ability to legally drink alcohol.

However, there are some 20-year-olds who don’t get to celebrate the same way as their peers: those who joined the Japan Self-Defense Forces after high school and are off on duty somewhere. The forgotten few were not so forgotten this year, as some pictures of them were posted on Twitter. And you thought the guys in Okinawa were badass? Check out these soldiers.

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Haruki Murakami’s advice on how to be a great writer: Be born with talent

Among contemporary writers, there’s no Japanese author with a bigger international following than Haruki Murakami. The novelist and translator is also highly respected within his home country, as Japan holds an especially deep respect for any of its citizens who succeed in making a name for themselves on the international stage.

As such, we imagine one young graduate student was hoping for some sage advice when she contacted Murakami and asked him for pointers on how to become a better writer. The response she got was as surprising, unique, and challenging as Murakami’s books themselves.

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Aquarium provides fishy fun, horrifyingly awkward marriage proposals

If you’re as introverted as I am, then the thought of public marriage proposals (whether on the giving, receiving, or spectating end) fills you with a deep, visceral horror. Popping the question in front of a big crowd is supposed to be romantic, but it also smacks a bit of desperationwith all these witnesses, how can she possibly say no? But what’s even MORE embarrassing is when your proposal is undeniably, horrifyingly lame, like when that one dude confessed his love to his girl with 99 iPhones, or in this case, where people actually got an aquarium tank diver to hold up cards with their proposal on. Nooooooooooooo!

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Steampunk cosplay accessory that makes our heart go boom boom boom

What do steampunk fashion and a heart monitor have in common? Usually, nothing. But throw in a garter belt and you’ve got yourself a creative and original piece of fashion fusing seemingly incompatible objects. Read on to check out this awesome steampunk cosplay accessory!

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The surprisingly easy art of getting your hamster to “cosplay,” tonnes of cute guaranteed!

There are people in this world who like cosplay, and there are people who like cute little animals. Put them together and you’d get possibly the only kind of cosplay that has the potential to out-cute toddlers in tiny geeky costumescosplaying pets!

Sadly, not all pets like being put into costumes, but most of the pets I’ve seen have a common interest in putting their curious little heads into gaps and holes. One Japanese pet owner combines the two elements in a stroke of genius, and came up with the most brilliant hamster “cosplay” we’ve ever seen. Check out the geeky little pal after the break!

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The Sailor Moon wedding tiara: For when you take the step from magical girl to magical wife

Last month, we took a look at the wedding photos of an extremely passionate Sailor Moon fan who infused her love of the classic magical girl series into nearly every aspect of her ceremony and reception. Impressed as we were, there was more than pure otaku gumption that went into the wedding, as the new bride also employed the considerable skills she’s developed working as a professional event planner.

But there’s another way to add a dash of Sailor Moon to your walk down the aisle, even if you don’t work in a creative industry. Provided whatever you do pays well, soon you’ll be able to order an official Sailor Moon wedding tiara.

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Struggling with Japanese? Let Tako lend you a hand…or five

Yes, I know octopi have eight tentacles not six, but Tako of Takos Japanese has five. It’s the same cartoon logic that makes the Simpson family all have eight fingers. And yes, I know the name should probably read “Tako’s Japanese.” Really though, let’s not get bogged down in talk of appendages and apostrophes right now.

Today we’re here to look at a new Japanese study app released by Spain-based Giant Soul Interactive. A lot of Japanese study apps found online are either fun but limited in content or deep but boring and stodgy. Learn Japanese with Tako (recently changed from “Takos Japanese”) aims to strike a happy balance of a fun way to learn the language that’s also rich in content. Let’s find out if they succeed.

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Burn baby burn! The Shinto inferno of Japan’s Dondo Yaki ceremony

When entering the grounds of a Shinto shrine in Japan, it’s customary to first stop by the water basin near the gate and rinse your hands, and sometimes your mouth, in order to cleanse them. Water isn’t the only classical element held to have purifying properties in Shintoism, though, since the same can be said about fire.

Obviously, worshippers aren’t called upon to put fire on their palms or inside their mouths. Instead, Shinto priests light pyres of charms and decorations during the Dondo Yaki ceremony, with the towering blazes regularly reaching 15 meters (49.2 feet) into the air.

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