Scientists in Osaka prove that it really does pay to be kind to others

Scientists in Osaka prove that it really does pay to be kind to others

A research group from Osaka University has confirmed that acts of kindness really are recognized and rewarded by those around you. Assistant lecturer Onishi Kenji, who is a specialist in the field of Developmental Psychology, led the research at the university which monitored the responses of infants to acts of kindness. The same research group announced its results in America’s online scientific journal “PLOS ONE”, dated August 7.

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Japanese train seats are cooler than you think

Japanese train seats are cooler than you think

Everyone knows that in case of an emergency, inflatable slides pop out from the exits of an airplane, enabling passengers to quickly and safely exit from the craft. But what about trains? Sure, walking on and off the platform is easy, but what if the train makes an abrupt stop and you’re staring at a four-foot drop to the ground? If you find yourself in Japan, you’ll be able to use the very seat you’re sitting on to make a swift escape.

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A new take on an old tradition, these amazing Obon figures are literally fresh!

A new take on an old tradition, these amazing Obon figures are literally fresh!

As we’ve previously mentioned, it’s Obon this week in Japan, and that means festivals, dancing, and ancestral spirits galore! Far from being the terrifying ghosts that you might find lurking in your closest in a horror film like Juon, however, these are spirits that Japanese people are happy to welcome into their houses. In addition to ohakamairi, or visiting graves, Japanese people also offer symbolic sacrifices at their home alters.

Some of the more interesting traditional sacrificial items are the cucumber horses (kyuri uma) and eggplant cows (nasu ushi) meant to carry the ancestors’ spirits to and from our earthly realm, but here’s one designer’s awesome, modern take on this ancient custom!

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Japan and the rise of the male parasol: They’re not just for Lolitas anymore!

Japan and the rise of the male parasol: They’re not just for Lolitas anymore!

Foreigners visiting Japan for the first time might be taken aback by how widespread the use of umbrellas is. Sure, during rain storms umbrellas make sense, but even during pleasantly sunny days you’re likely to see enough women putting up parasols to make you think the Bauhaus were in town.

Even this is understandable as “the Land of the Rising Sun” is not just another pretty name. In the middle of summer the often cloudless skies leave us at the mercy of the sun’s unrelenting rays. Combined with a lack of trees in many urban areas there’s simply no escape. And with pale skin traditionally considered to be a sign of beauty and elegance, it’s no wonder so many women still carry a parasol, but it would seem that the heat is getting so bad these days that men, too, are bit by bit turning to a once exclusively feminine accessory for relief and protection.

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Censorship gone wild: Thailand’s kids deprived of swimsuits and bare chests

Censorship gone wild: Thailand’s kids deprived of swimsuits and bare chests

If you thought America was gung-ho about censorship, wait ’til you see Thailand’s approach. As the following gallery will show, the broadcasting department’s censors have been unleashed on kids’ anime favourites with a lethal force.

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Air conditioning temporarily banned in Korea to counteract summer power shortage

Air conditioning temporarily banned in Korea to counteract summer power shortage

In the midst of a severe heat wave, South Korea is facing a terrible energy crisis. And so, in an effort to save power, the government has taken the step of prohibiting the use of air conditioners – the very devices that few of us would ever dream of going without at this time of year – in public buildings for a number of days.

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Enjoy Kyoto (Part 1) — Stay in a restored traditional machiya house!

Enjoy Kyoto (Part 1) — Stay in a restored traditional machiya house!

The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan for foreign and Japanese travelers alike, and with good reason — there’s a whole lot to see, feel and eat in this beautiful, historic city. Yes, Kyoto is a city that definitely provides a feast for the senses. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit the city recently, and while you’re sure to find an abundance of tourist information on Kyoto from numerous sources in a multitude of languages, I thought I’d share some interesting aspects of the city I experienced during my trip that may not necessarily be part of a typical visit to Kyoto. Here’s the first article in our three-part series on some new and original ways to enjoy this picturesque city that is full of magnificent temples, gardens, works of art and, of course, exquisite foods.

But first things first. Once you have your plane and train tickets to Kyoto booked, you’ll need to think about where you will be staying. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of accommodation options in Kyoto, but if you’re tired of staying in a regular hotel, why not try staying in a restored old machiya house that combines history and function?

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Are these the five weirdest video games of all time?

Are these the five weirdest video games of all time?

Observed by those who don’t play them, video games may all seem a little bit peculiar. Mushroom-eating plumbers stomping hammer-throwing turtles, ultra-violent military shooters whose protagonists bound across battlefields shouldering rocket launchers while hurling grenades and taking bullet after bullet to the chest, and of course the hordes of zombie titles that, like their lumbering stars, simply won’t die. For those accustomed to the rules of these digital worlds, though, this all makes perfect sense.

There are occasionally, however, a few titles that even the gaming elite would recoil from wearing an expression somewhere between “ermahgerd” and “turd sandwich”, and YouTube-based ZoominGames believes they’ve identified the cream of said crop. So let’s take a look at the channel’s “Top 5 Weird Games” one by one and see if they’re really they freaky affairs they’re made out to be. Oh, and did we mention that all five happen to have been made in Japan…?

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Hellish Chinese summer heat causes sad pandas, exploding cars, and people literally retreating into caves

Hellish Chinese summer heat causes sad pandas, exploding cars, and people literally retreating into caves

Oddly, while there are plenty of disaster movies about earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, sharknadoes, sharktopi, even unexpected ice ages – honestly, how does an ice age sneak up on you? – there has never been a disaster movie in our memories that focused on deadly heat waves. Which is weird, because here in Asia, deadly heat waves occur every single year. And this year, it’s so bad, it’s literally causing society in China to come to a grinding halt.

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Missed the light show? Here’s a view of the Perseid meteor shower from Japan!

Missed the light show? Here’s a view of the Perseid meteor shower from Japan!

The Perseid meteor shower is a free show in the sky, but we understand if you accidentally nodded off before you had a chance to make a wish upon a star. If you were one of those caught snoozing, feel free to gaze at these beautiful photos and video of the Perseid shower that were taken in Japan.

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Tiny, adorable cosplay of Attack on Titan’s Levi will leave you screaming “Kawaiiiii!”

Tiny, adorable cosplay of Attack on Titan’s Levi will leave you screaming “Kawaiiiii!”

Although Attack on Titan may feature some pretty gruesome, bloody scenes, it has, surprisingly enough, inspired one of the cutest cosplay costumes we’ve ever seen!

Spotted at Comiket and in Akihabara, this diminutive cosplayer may have just won the award for cutest thing ever. Check below for more pictures to leave you screaming “Kawaiiiii!”

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Lightning strikes moving train in Japan 【Video】

Lightning strikes moving train in Japan 【Video】

Much like sweat-stained shirts or the incessant cry of cicadas, lightning storms are just a part of summer in Japan. But with all of those electrostatic discharges, something other than the ground is bound to be hit.

On August 12, one man in Tokyo not only saw a train being struck by lightning, he caught the frightening scene on film.

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10 Twitter users in Tokyo who know how to make the best of a bad situation

10 Twitter users in Tokyo who know how to make the best of a bad situation

At around 6:15 p.m. on Monday, August 12, the Tokyo skies were ripped apart by streaks of lightning, and rain the like of which few urbanites have ever seen flooded the streets. Umbrellas were abandoned, taxis pulled over to the side of the road, and crowds of commuters–many having only just finished work and anxious to get home after yet another swelteringly hot day–ducked and winced with each clap of thunder above their heads. Unable to go any further, many sought refuge in shops and cafes, while those who made it to their respective stations were met with bad news: the trains had ground to a halt. Instead of being well on their way to a shower, clean, dry clothes and maybe a meal with their families, Tokyo office workers were packed into stations, hot, dripping with rainwater and sweat, and becoming increasingly irritable.

But then there were the heroes. The everyday men and women who, refusing to be beaten, said “Screw this!” and went for ice cream. And cake and beer and a whole lot of other good food while they waited for the rain to stop and normal service to resume. These are the people we salute today.

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The top 10 haunted spots in Japan as chosen by a professional ghost chaser

The top 10 haunted spots in Japan as chosen by a professional ghost chaser

Ginti Kobayashi is a writer who in recent years can be seen in the series, Kaidan Shinmimibukuro Nagurikomi! In these DVDs, we follow Kobayashi and his colleagues as they explore Japan’s most notoriously haunted places.

In the spirit of summer, when Japan likes to cool down by sharing chilling stories, Kobayashi sat down with Spa magazine and laid out his choices for the top 10 most frightening haunted places he has ever experienced.

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Homogenous? Ethnic enclaves within Japan feel like stepping into another world

Homogenous? Ethnic enclaves within Japan feel like stepping into another world

Compared to the diversity of most Western countries, Japan has had relatively low levels of immigration and has been famously described by many Japanese politicians as racially “homogenous”. Be that as it may, immigrants tend to discover their home away from home in certain areas where their countrymen and women congregate. In my case I found a cultural home mostly at the bottom of a glass in Hub, the British pub, or at T.G.I. Friday’s, the American restaurant chain, in Tokyo. Well-known ethnic neighborhoods include the Chinatowns of Yokohama and Kobe, and Little Korea in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo, but lately some new areas have sprung up.

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Break out your rags and incense! Let’s learn to clean a grave the right way this Obon season

Break out your rags and incense! Let’s learn to clean a grave the right way this Obon season

This Thursday, 15 August marks the beginning of Obon in most of Japan. Obon is a Buddhist custom in Japan where families gather together and are visited by the spirits of their ancestors. Various festivals are held to welcome the ghosts with music and dancing, depending on the region.

However, one tradition that is fairly consistent across the country is known as Ohakamairi (visiting the grave). This custom involves the family going to their grave to clean it and give presents to their deceased ancestors.

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“The Lost Lakes” exhibition aims to bring awareness to China’s vanishing water sources 【Photo Gallery】

“The Lost Lakes” exhibition aims to bring awareness to China’s vanishing water sources 【Photo Gallery】

Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of city life, most urbanites aren’t thinking about the fragility of nature. When all you see is concrete, it’s easy to forget that there were once thousands of trees around that weren’t strategically placed by landscapers. But a view of the city lights reflected in silver pools is reminding the crowds of Beijing about the tragic effects of pollution and climate change.

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Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as you’ve never seen them before

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces as you’ve never seen them before

They’re usually the epitome of seriousness and order, but it seems even military men can find Japan’s summer heat a little overwhelming…

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Tokyo teen attacked with pepper spray after making polite gesture

Tokyo teen attacked with pepper spray after making polite gesture

In one of the stranger criminal cases this summer–though not quite the strangest–a 29-year-old woman has attacked another woman in a Tokyo train station restroom with pepper spray.

The reason for the attack will leave you baffled.

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Beautiful folded paper art by Vietnamese origami artist, Cuong Nguyen

Beautiful folded paper art by Vietnamese origami artist, Cuong Nguyen

“Origami. It’s the sushi of paper.”

Much like sushi, the art of folding paper has spread abroad and is now enjoyed by people all over the world. With so many different artists taking part in the same craft, the results can be breathtaking, just like these pieces by self-taught artist, Cuong Nguyen of Hanoi, Vietnam.

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