Japanese company creates ball-balancing cheerleader robots

Japan has an infatuation with robots; after all, you don’t see beautiful cyborg women hanging out in restaurants in the US or 24-fingered hair washing bots in the UK. That’s why we weren’t surprised at all to find that Japan has just produced a gang of cheerleading robots that dance in sync while balancing on a ball.

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Belly photos from underneath are the next big trend in hamster cuteness

It seems that hamster trends come and go on the ‘Net: earlier this year hamster butts were totally in, and before that flat hamsters were all the rage. Now the hot new thing is hamster bellies! And not just their fluffy bellies, but specifically their underside seen from below.

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We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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Tokyo’s moe temple is now selling Buddhist goddess anime figures

A few years ago, a temple called Ryohoji in Tokyo’s Hachioji district started to use moe girls – cute-sexy adolescent anime characters – to promote the temple. They put up a new sign at the entrance with moe girls explaining the temple grounds. The temple has become a minor tourist destination for pilgrimaging otaku, and is commonly known as moe-dera (“moe temple”).

Until the moe temple came along, people interested in both Buddhist iconography and youthful cartoon girls had to enjoy their two hobbies separately. But now, the clever people at Ryohoji have come up with this official moe figure of Benzaiten. Maybe they thought the goddess needed a little anime improvement…

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This is your final boarding call for a once-in-a-decade chance to ride Japan’s fastest train

The Superconducting Magnetic Levitation Train (SCMaglev) has been in development by Japan Railways for decades and has already broken various world speed records for railed vehicles during test runs. However, it won’t begin operation in Japan until 2027.

That is unless you are one of the lucky few chosen for a series of test runs being conducted in November and December of this year. If you apply by midnight on 30 September you’ll get a chance to ride the train of the future today! What are you waiting for?! Go!

Actually, wait! There’s some useful information you should probably read here first. Then go!

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Cat Sushi figures return to Japanese vending machines! Our collection (and lives) are complete

We recently added to our collection of weird Japanese toys by buying a couple of Doggy Bread Figures. But while the canine fans in the RocketNews24 office were happy, our resident cat lovers couldn’t help but sigh in sad reminiscence of the good old days when they could decorate their shelves with cat sushi.

Well, the worlds of Japanese cuisine and cute kitties have once again collided, as there’s a new batch of really (and surreally) cute sushi cat figures on the market, and we’ve already compiled a complete set.

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Holes in your paper door? Use colorful cloth to brighten up your shoji!

Sliding paper doors give a subtle elegance to any room, but unfortunately for homeowners in Japan who like to keep things nice, are extremely fragile. Even the slightest finger poke can damage the thin paper, leaving you with the task of trying to cover up the imperfections. But those with shoji are in luck! Crafty netizens have come up with an easy and eye-catching way to fix those holes, using their favorite patterned fabric to add a splash of color to the traditionally white doors.

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ZOMG! ICE CREAM! Taste-testing the best autumn-flavored ice cream in Japan

It’s no secret that we love ice cream around here. In fact, we’ve often thought about petitioning someone to get it added to the food pyramid as a new, essential group unto itself. So far, no one has taken up our cause, but maybe they will after they see this list of delicious autumn-themed ice cream from Japan.

There are plenty of…unusual ice cream flavors, but chestnut might be the strangest we’ve seen. Here’s the real question though: Is it as tasty as it is bizarre?

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Check out these amazing miniature dioramas from Tokyo artist Satoshi Araki【Photos】

Satoshi Araki is an artist who creates miniature dioramas. In one of his brilliantly imagined worlds, a mysterious figure stands in a dark alleyway. In another, a car with smashed-out windows sprawls in front of a bombed-out house in a destroyed city.

Araki sometimes puts a single finger into the frame to show the scale of the tiny scenes, which are sculpted in painstaking detail. His coke cans are smaller than a fingernail; his Vespa model is tiny enough to rest on your thumb.

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You can eat a polar bear in Kagoshima

That’s right, you can eat a polar bear in Japan. But before you start freaking out about animal cruelty or endangered species, we are actually talking about the funky dessert in picture above, not the big furry mammal. Meet the shirokuma or polar bear, a delicious treat of shaved ice, sweet milk syrup and fruit from Kagoshima.

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Thirsty? How about some cider made with Japanese cat nip?

Even though you can find Coca-Cola in every convenience store in Japan, for the most part the country isn’t all that into carbonated soft drinks. So if you’re selling a fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage, you need some kind of unique hook.

Pepsi has made a habit of periodically releasing unusual flavors such as chestnut or cucumber-flavored sodas, but we’ve also seen smaller, regional producers put out some creative concoctions such as cider that tastes like tomatoes, tea, or olives. Even still, beverage makers haven’t exhausted every possible taste, as right now in Yokohama and Osaka you can get your hands on cider made with silver vine, or Japanese catnip.

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Kyoto mascot bridges the gap between weirdly cute and just plain weird

As one of the most scenic sections of one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, Kyoto’s Arashiyama isn’t exactly hurting for tourists. Still, the neighborhood is looking to attract even more visitors, and in doing so has decided to employ Japan’s current favorite travel marketing technique by creating a yuru-kyara, or local mascot.

Designers actually had multiple ways they could have gone with this, such as playing up the area’s historic temples or beautiful bamboo groves. In the end, they drew their inspiration from the Togetsukyou Bridge, which was first constructed in the early 9th century.

But while that’s a fine choice, we can’t help but question the final design for the character, in which a portion of the bridge is dumped on the back of the vaguely humanoid creature called Wataru Tsukihashi.

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Welcome to Wonderland: The most barely functioning place on Earth!

Although Japan is a place of widespread religious ambiguity, there is an underlying belief in a place between the land of the living and the world of the dead. It’s an entirely different world in itself, a temporal zone where you can’t be sure what exists and what doesn’t.

This place is Wonderland amusement park in Fukui Prefecture. The park boasts four remaining attractions that haven’t been closed down due to safety reasons and a distinct lack of guests. Nevertheless, Wonderland assures you they are open… especially if you want to buy the place.

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Proceeds from gourmet New Year’s meals to be donated to help feed undernourished children

As a nation of die-hard foodies, Japan is always on the lookout for a memorable meal. We’re just a couple of months away from New Year’s, when Japan dines on some of its most opulent dishes of all as part of the multi-dish osechi meals that are traditionally eaten at the beginning of the year.

Recently, more and more families have begun purchasing their osechi rather than making their own, and we imagine quite a few have been tempted by the Mickey Mouse and Frozen versions we talked about last month. If you’re willing to hold off on satisfying your inner child for the sake of the world’s less fortunate actual kids, though, you might be interested in an osechi set that helps raise funds for charity group Table for Two.

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All insolvent idol group “The Margarines” to debut, total debt of all members: 127 million yen

Debt is a major problem facing people of all ages today. Many young graduates head out into the world already handicapped by a shrinking job market and crippling student loans while their parents have to deal with drying pensions and stagnant real-estate market. It’s a heavy burden that requires a combination of luck and hard work to pull oneself out of, but with some sensible fiscal planning it is possible.

Or, you could do what the nine young women in The Margarines did and pursue a career in the pop idol industry. Their mission is to sing and dance their way out of a combined 127.7M yen (US$1.17M) of debt in an already heavily over-saturated entertainment industry. How could it possibly fail?

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Universal Studios Japan has a “Horror Night,” and it’s apparently pretty horrific

In recent years, Japan seems to have been catching on to the whole Halloween thing in a big way. Halloween celebrations and festivals grow and grow year after year and they’re starting earlier in the year than ever before.

Case in point: Universal Studios Japan’s “Horror Night” program starts over a month before Halloween, which is earlier than even some of my more overzealous Halloween buff friends in America were asking for costume ideas on Facebook. Of course, getting started early on the Halloween spirit is never a bad thing; everybody loves the family-friendly adrenaline kick you get from being “soft scared” by horror events you know are just pretend.

The problem, apparently, is that Universal Studios – according to Japanese media – might be taking things a little too far.

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This Japanese Febreze ad looks a bit like the start of a kaiju movie 【Video】

Before moving to Japan, I always liked to imagine that Japanese TV shows would be a cross between Takeshi’s Castle and Iron Chef. In reality, television here is far less entertaining, and seems to consist predominantly of carefully orchestrated panel shows and broadcasts which are so plastered with gaudy graphics and subtitles that I often feel as if I’m reading more than I’m watching when I sit in front of my TV set.

Thankfully, Japan’s primetime ads are usually far more quirky and entertaining. Take this recent commercial for odour-removal spray Febreze, for example, which features a giant, gurning sun dual-wielding bottles of the stuff.

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The ugly truth of goukon, Japan’s group blind dates

Japanese goukon (organized group dates) are a mixed bag – sometimes they’re a whole lot of fun, and other times they’re a downright uncomfortable experience. For Japanese women wanting to reduce their risk of having a terrible time, one magazine has put together a list of the top companies to avoid when it comes to lecherous guys at their drinking parties.

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Japanese women reveal their methods of raising a guy’s bedroom technique

While common values and shared intellectual interests are crucial for a successful romantic relationship, you can’t downplay the importance of a mutually enjoyable meeting of the bodies to go along with that of the hearts and minds. But just like not everyone is born with perfect pitch or the ability to curl their tongue, some people aren’t naturals when it comes to greatness in the sack.

Recently, Japanese website Modelpress asked for Japanese women’s methods for helping their boyfriends raise their game, and today we take a look at their top five picks.

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【TBT】This blue beer looks like it came from alcoholic Willy Wonka’s factory

The Abashiri Brewery in Hokkaido which, judging by its website, really is some kind of beer-themed Willy Wonka side project, boasts what may be the world’s first naturally blue beer.

Always ready to get drunk for the sake of our readers, RocketNews24 took it upon ourselves to investigate this mystifying beer anomaly, appropriately named the Ryuhyou Draft (“Ice Floe Draft”), at a beachside pub.

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