Ape escape! Emergency manoeuvres at Ueno Zoo as world’s least-threatening gorilla gets loose

Visitors to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo were asked to evacuate the premises yesterday after it was reported that a gorilla had become loose from its enclosure. More than 50 members of staff immediately leapt into action, preparing giant nets and tranquilizer guns to take down the rampaging, and undeniably cuddly looking, animal.

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The 2014 Sapporo Snow Festival【Photo Gallery】

Last year we brought you a firsthand account of the 2013 Sapporo Snow Festival, with more images of snow and ice sculptures than you can get your tongue stuck to. This year, we’re sad to say we couldn’t make it out to the annual event up in Japan’s northernmost prefecture, so we’ve been living vicariously through Twitter users. Some of the images we’ve seen are too good not to share, so we decided to give you a little taste of the snow festival through the following gallery of images from Twitter.

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Buying your Buddhist goods, drive-thru style

Since their introduction in the 1930’s, drive-thrus have become part of modern life. We’re used to the idea of ordering fast food or a coffee through a little glass window, but there’s also a a range of other shopping and services available from the comfort of your car, from picking up prescriptions or dry cleaning, to getting your groceries. And of course Vegas even offers those infamous drive-thru weddings! But one of the more bizarre drive-thrus is, of course, to be found in Japan.

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You can play Tekken using a piano!!! 【Video】

Tekken is arguably one of the best fighting games out there. The series is coming up on its 20th anniversary and has been hugely successful in Japan and abroad during the past two decades. Tekken has recently been gaining a lot of buzz online, not for the game itself, but for a new way to play it. In a YouTube video titled, “Tekkenpiano Docu,” user Peter Oehler shows us how he invented a way to play Tekken using a piano.

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Glowing man spotted on the last train home in Tokyo

Early this morning, a peculiar fellow was spotted riding the rails in Tokyo. Wrapped in layers of lights and adorned in pink pinwheels, he didn’t even bother sitting in the half-empty carriage. Just what was this glowing man doing on the last train home? The answer may surprise you.

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Simply amazing — these unbelievably life-like stuffed dolls will take your breath away!

Just look at those large, round, clear eyes that seem to see right into your soul! They belong to what appears to be an undeniably adorable yet otherworldly furry creature. But wait, this can’t be an actual, living animal, can it?

No, you’re right, this isn’t a living animal — but it certainly looks life-like, doesn’t it? What you’re seeing here is the work of young Russian artist Santani. And we have a collection of pictures showing her gorgeous creations to share with you, so sit back, relax and let these creatures take you to an alien world!

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White Cola is back! And it brought penguins for the Sochi Olympics

For decades Japan has had fleeting affairs with concoctions known as “White Cola” which is meant to be a twist on the age old formula that brings us the brown colas we all know and love. Now, it’s back again to celebrate the Sochi Olympics. From 4 February you can purchase a bottle of Pokka Sapporo White Cola for 147 yen (US$1.45).

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Manga secret agent team has handsome looks, plus backaches, cavities, and sties

As completely fictitious forms of media, we usually don’t see the characters in anime and manga suffering the physical ill effects of their action-packed lifestyles. Shouldn’t Evangelion’s Shinji have severe whiplash from all the times his scrawny frame gets tossed around while piloting his giant robot? How does Kenshiro, hero of post-apocalyptic epic Fist of the North Star, not get a wicked eye infection after spending the whole of his adult life wandering a desert wasteland without so much as bottle of eye drops?

The answer, of course, is that those aren’t what Evangelion and Fist of the North Star are about (they’re about turning humanity into delicious Tang and making dudes’ heads explode, respectively). But by skipping over these real world problems, are creators missing an opportunity to make their characters more nuanced, relatable, and ultimately, attractive?

At least one artist seems to think so, as a new manga series has just begun featuring a cast of handsome men all suffering from physical ailments such as hay fever and stiff shoulders.

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We try Häagen-Dazs Rose and Sakura: It’s like there’s a toilet in my mouth and everyone’s invited

On 3 February, Häagen-Dazs Japan released two new flavors to celebrate their 30th anniversary: Rose and Sakura (cherry blossom). Although they were unusual flavors in the realm of ice cream, in the more than capable hands of Häagen-Dazs they’re sure to be great… right?

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The craziest items Japanese students have taken into college exams

College professors have to put up with a lot of student trolling. The kids are entirely free from parental supervision for the first time in their lives and they’ve had all of high school to dream up great ways to cheat or prank the system once they’ve reached the realm of higher education.

And the rate of trolling is doubtlessly at its highest during midterms and final exams, when the students are just days away from a few months of freedom and are itching for chances to get an edge on the test. So, it’s baffling to us how so many Japanese college professors seem to make the mistake of telling students they can “bring anything” to the final exam. Because of course, hearing that, some kids will bring things like:

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How sweet! Fans send 8,000 boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolate to one anime character

Unlike in the West, in Japan it’s primarily girls who hand out gifts of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Although the most common pattern is for a woman to give sweets to her boyfriend or secret crush, the holiday’s scope has been expanded to include relatives, coworkers, or any guy whose kindness she feels indebted to, regardless of whether there’s any romantic sentiment involved or not.

In recent years, the recipient doesn’t even have to be a real person, as this giant haul of Valentine’s Day chocolate for a single anime character proves.

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Twitter, Facebook, Line: The people of Japan vote on their favourite social networking services

Like them or loathe them, social networking services, or SNS for short, have become an integral part of our daily lives and society as a whole. While Facebook, Twitter and Naver Corporation’s Line offer very different experiences, most users will agree that without them, they’d feel lost, or at least have a sudden and unexpected amount of free time on their hands.

Recently, a survey was conducted in Japan which asked respondents about the services they used, asking them which they turned to most often, which they were most careful about using and sharing information on, and which they’d hate to be without. Join us for a peek at the results after the jump.

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Manga strip exposes the violent underbelly of all-girls schools in Japan

Recent arrivals to Japan are often surprised to find that the country’s educational system has a number of all-girls schools, at levels ranging from elementary to university. To the inexperienced outsider, this can conjure up all sorts of fanciful images of students dressed in petticoat and culottes, gliding gracefully down pastel-painted hallways on their way to the cafeteria to sip and nibble at their lunches of herbal tea and strawberry crepes.

However, often the truth isn’t quite so rose-tinted. After all, both men and women tend to try to put their nicest face forward when members of the opposite gender are around. Many graduates of all-female schools in Japan report that without any incentive to play up the softer sides of their personalities, the girls there can be downright nasty to each other, as illustrated in this short comic.

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【Thursday Throwback】Read the short story that captured the hearts of Japan

The following is a translation of a short story originally taken from a 2008 book by Haruhiro Kinoshita and posted on a blog called One Minute Impressions. The story struck a chord with tens of thousands of people across Japan as it spread through social networks. The following is a translation of the story as it appeared on this website.

There Was This Cashier

She moved from the countryside to go to a university in Tokyo. She joined many extra-curricular activities but always lost interest quickly. One after another, she jumped from club to club looking for something better.

When it came time for her to find work, she got a job with a manufacturing company, but she couldn’t continue working there. Three months after starting she felt she couldn’t see eye to eye with her boss. It didn’t take long for her to quit.

The next job she got was for a distribution company. She worked there for six months but came to realize the job was different from she had hoped it to be. Shortly after, she quit.

From there she joined up with a company that manages medical statistics and information, but this too didn’t do it for her.

This job just isn’t for me.

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Seven Japanese drugstore beauty products loved by women abroad

When it comes to product quality and innovation, Japanese makers are the cream of the crop, with exceptional achievements in the automobile and electronics sector. Apart from high-tech machinery, the Japanese also create beauty products of excellent quality and value, something that they’re rarely recognized for outside of Asia.

Beauty and fashion website, The Cut by New York magazine spills that makeup artists backstage at Fashion Week often use beauty tools and cosmetics from Japan. The Cut, together with Japanese makeup artist Maki Ryoke, shares seven Japanese drugstore beauty buys that even women in the West are in love with!

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18 bookstores every book lover must visit at least once

Bookstores can be a destination upon themselves. From Venice to Mexico City, check out some of the most interesting book retailers out there.

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“What’s wrong with her eyes!?” Say hello to the dentist’s doll from the (past, present) future

Yesterday, we ran an article telling the story of a dentist in Japan who was arrested for “massaging” a female patient’s chest while claiming that doing so would help fix her misaligned teeth. In it, we included a photo of what appeared to be a young woman in a dentist’s chair with her mouth wide open.

We received plenty of comments on Facebook and Twitter about the news story itself, but many people also took a profound interest in the model in the photo, some feeling quite uneasy about the way she looked yet not knowing why, asking, “What’s wrong with her eyes!?”

The answer to that question is simple, but also kind of creepy: the woman in the photo is an ultra-lifelike doll used in dentistry.

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New Attack on Titan model is both fear and awe inspiring

While there’s no questioning that Attack on Titan is one of the most successful anime of the past several years, there’s still room for debate about the series’ giant monsters themselves. Sure, the titans stand 60 meters (197 feet) tall and are out to eat all of mankind. At the same time, though, they’re naked, often disheveled, and occasionally of pudgy build. Sometimes they look downright comical, even becoming the inspiration for lighthearted merchandise and cosplay.

So which is it? Are the titans supposed to be terrifying or silly?

After taking a look at this new Attack on Titan model, we’re going to have to put one more mark in the latter column.

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Ladybeard is Japan’s Bizzaro Andrew W.K.

Although Andrew W.K. has sort of fallen out of the spotlight recently, he will always be in the spotlight of our hearts thanks to his manic, just-shy-of-annoyingly positive attitude, party anthems that happened to come out while we were in college and dark flowing locks.

Now Japan apparently has its own version of Andrew W.K., and, because this is Japan, the “party-rocking dude who’s always fun to be around” aesthetic has gotten sort of… twisted on the way.

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Akira Toriyama to draw manga about Goku’s mom

In 2011, Bardock, the father of Dragon Ball lead protagonist Goku, became the star of his own manga, Episode of Bardock, which expanded on his backstory. Now manga creator Akira Toriyama has revealed that he will draw a manga about Goku’s mother as well.

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