After seeing this panda, men will finally understand why women wear so much makeup

The power of makeup is both awe-inspiring and downright terrifying. With the swipe of a single brush, people can transform themselves into completely different beings (just take a look at Ukraine’s real-life Barbie when she’s not wearing makeup). After you get used to someone wearing makeup all the time, it can even be a shock to see that person bare-faced.

Take this panda, for instance. On the left you see a typically adorable panda. On the right, well, we’ve got an image of what a panda would look like without any of its trademark “eye makeup.” And boy, what a difference it makes!

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West Japan’s new sleeper train looks more luxurious than most hotels

While the typical itinerary for visitors to Japan is Tokyo, Kyoto, and then home, western Japan has a lot to offer. As a matter of fact, as I type this, I’m just about to leave for a few days of enjoying the beautiful sights and delicious food of Hiroshima Prefecture.

In order to maximize my time there, I’m hopping on an overnight bus. But while that’ll get me there bright and early, it’s not nearly as stylish as the new sleeper train that was just announced by Japan Railways.

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Grumpy tweet receives backlash, Netizens discuss morality of sitting on floor

You never know what’s going to cause a mini Twitter storm in this day and age. One grumpy commuter caused fellow netizens to take sides on an issue that is surely one of the great debates of the modern era – should teachers be making their students sit on the floor of a train?!

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Newsflash: AKB48 members attacked by saw-wielding “fan” at handshake event【UPDATED】

At 4:55 p.m. today, the company behind many of Japan’s larger idol groups, AKS, released a statement regarding an attack on members of AKB48 and event staff during a handshake event in Iwate Prefecture this afternoon.

Members Rina Kawaei (19) and Anna Iriyama (18), as well as a male member of the venue staff, are said to have been injured, with a 24-year-old male taken into police custody.

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Duckling savior has 13 baby ducks following him around, We’re absolutely jealous 【Video】

It’s the weekend! Time to kick back, relax, and watch a few baby ducks chase after a full-grown man. A total of 13 little ducklings, to be exact!

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Bored with hotels? Abenomics bringing new lodging options for foreign tourists in Japan

With Japan’s population steadily decreasing, the country is finding itself with a bigger and bigger surplus of vacant houses—7.75 million of them, according to a 2008 survey. That makes more than 10% of all housing units in Japan unoccupied and that is set to increase to 30% by 2030.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic reforms, lovingly dubbed “Abenomics,” hopes to turn this vacancy problem into a cash cow for property owners by changing hotel laws and loosening restrictions on renting out your home to tourists planning their ultimate Japanese vacation. And to jumpstart the initiative, a Japanese real estate giant has teamed up with a home rental website to match up homeowners to prospective overseas tourists who want to experience a more authentic Japan.

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Keyboard Cat 2.0! Gorgeous cat reduces hoomin productivity by using hilarious drunk face【photos】

Even before the days of YouTube and news blogs, we humans all knew that cats, whether directly or indirectly, have a propensity for disrupting whatever activity you’re trying to focus on. Of course the internet helps with this too, A LOT. Heck, this article is probably keeping you from work right now!

Take Setsu-chan for example, a former stray who was adopted by doting Twitterer Mino (@mino_rs). Photos of this blue-eyed beauty acting cute, distracting his owner, and well, being a cat, are fast becoming an online hit. One serendipitous photo belies his natural exquisiteness, however, and this rib-tickling shot has been retweeted over 15,000 times. How does this cat from Japan manage to look like your proverbial wasted business man on the Yamanote line?

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12 amazing creations people have built in the game ‘Minecraft’

“Minecraft” is a huge, open-world sandbox game, which was released for the PC in 2009. Since then, it’s been released on other platforms, and as of February 2014, it has sold over 14 million copies on the PC, and 35 million across all the other platforms.There are various activities you perform in the game: combat, exploration, crafting, gathering items, and building things. There are no specific goals to accomplish, but there are different modes. For example, there’s Survival mode, where players have to craft items in order to build certain things. There are baddies that come out at night, and there’s a health bar that you need to check up on.

Then there’s Creative mode, in which players have the freedom to use their imaginations and build things, without worrying about health meters and bad guys.

Building in “Minecraft” is easy. You get tools, like shovels and axes, to chop down trees and cut through stone. And without a time limit or a place to go, some players have taken their creative freedom to the next level.

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Over 2,000 Saitama residents to get refunds from the police for “erroneously” issued tickets

For those who woke up in Saitama Prefecture this morning, you might have noticed something particularly pleasant in the air, like the entire region just got a little happier. That’s because on 22 May the Prefectural Police announced that they would be giving refunds and apologies to 2,400 people who were given tickets and demerit points because of an improperly conducted eight-year crackdown on driving violations.

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France vs Taiwan: Which country has more warm-hearted and helpful citizens?

Earlier this month, YouTube user NorniTube uploaded a controversial video of a social experiment which looked at how a person’s appearance can affect the responses they get from the general public. One two different days, he pretended to collapse on a Paris street to see if anyone would come to his aid, on one occasion wearing shabby clothes, on the other dressed in a smart suit. (We’ll leave you to watch the video to find out how it went!)

After watching NorniTube’s video, YouTuber Hei Nan decided to test the reactions of his fellow Taiwanese citizens by doing a similar experiment on the streets of his city. Were the Taiwanese more or less likely to help out that the Parisians in NorniTube’s video? Find out after the jump!

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A man’s wrist – Japan’s male version of a strip of exposed thigh?

In general, men have a very simple formula they use when determining how much female skin they like to see on display: the more, the better. This of course leads to the corollary, even more skin = even better.

One notable exception to this, however, is Japan’s love of knee-high socks, which leave a small patch of skin on display them and the hem of the skirt. Known as zettai ryouiki, or “absolute territory,” it’s become such a cultural phenomenon that it’s led to the creation of a smartphone game and not one, but two special days celebrating the look.

Now, one Twitter user in Japan claims to have discovered the male version of zettai ryouiki.

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Is Japan’s Cat Island in danger of turning into the Island of Fat Cats?

There’s a Japanese proverb, “Neko ni Koban,” that translates as “Giving a gold coin to a cat.” It’s a metaphor for offering something of worth that the recipient either doesn’t need or can’t understand the value of, but it’s also a telling example of how hard it is to win a cat’s favor. Cats have no use for our money, they’re not impressed by our fashion trends, and even if they appreciate our modern sense of humor they’re too proud to let it show by openly laughing.

With so few options, in an attempt to curry favor, some people offer stray cats food (although not, in fact, a bowl of curry). But might this be causing a problem to the residents of one of Japan’s famous cat islands?

We dispatched our Japanese-language correspondent, Meg, to find out (and also pet some kitties while she was at it).

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Who earns more: cat lovers or dog lovers?

Following on from yesterday’s compromise between dogs and cats, today let’s take a look at some of the differences between the owners of these popular pets. It’s said that dogs will stay loyal to you through thick and thin, while cats will stick up their noses at you if you so much as look at them wrong.

They each have their own special appeal, and it makes sense that there’d be some differences to be found between dog lovers and cat lovers, other than the suspicion that cat owners are slightly masochistic.

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New J-drama ‘Kol Kimono': Brought to you from…Thailand!

Elegant kimono, cascading wisteria blossoms and the stunning scenery of Kyushu, Japan’s most southwesterly island. If this sounds like an archetypal scene from the land of the rising sun, you’d be half right – new drama ‘Kol Kimono’, which hits TV screens in December, is definitely set in Japan. But you won’t find it broadcast there just yet – only in Thailand!

In Thailand, interest in Japanese culture is at an all-time high. Thanks in part to relaxed visa regulations, the number of Thai visitors to Japan has doubled in the last three years. The new primetime drama, which started filming on location in Kyushu last week, also stars Thongchai “Bird” McIntyre, one of Thailand’s biggest names, in his first leading role in 17 years.

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Kiss Day in Japan inspires awkward smooch illustration battle

We love all of the unofficial holidays in Japan. From Fundoshi (also known as Japanese loincloth) Day to Cat Day, people all over the country have special events (and discounts) to look forward to all year round.

But May 23 marked Kiss Day in Japan and netizens all over the country celebrated the seemingly romantic occasion with some decidedly strange drawings in a bizarre illustration battle on Twitter.

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Nago mayor says US bases “a legacy of misery” in Okinawa

Nago is located in northern Okinawa, a tourist town with beautiful beaches and a pineapple park. Its waters are home to gorgeous coral and seagrass beds that serve as the feeding grounds to Japan’s last remaining population of dugong, an endangered sea mammal related to the manatee. Nago is also the site of the proposed relocation of Futenma airbase, the US Marine complex that is at the core of a controversy between the Okinawan, Japanese, and US governments.

The mayor of Nago, Susumu Inamine, was in New York last weekend to deliver speeches and have informative discussions regarding the issue.

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We try the new 7-Eleven premium popcorn that everyone in Japan is going wild about

Earlier this week, netizens in Japan started going nuts about a new range of popcorn on sale at 7-Eleven. Unlike in some countries, 7-Eleven Japan takes great pride in regularly launching new, limited-edition snacks, and more often than not they’re surprisingly tasty. The response its latest product garnered, however, was ludicrously enthusiastic.

When netizens got wind of the “amazingly delicious” new caramel and (curiously) cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn on sale at their local Sebun, people apparently started bulk-buying, resulting hundreds of tweets going out bemoaning a lack of stock and pestering 7-Eleven – who then added fuel to the fire by acknowledging that the snack was indeed hard to come by – and demanding to know where they could get it.

Curious to find out what all the fuss was about, we procured a couple of bags and sat down to conduct a little taste test. I can tell you right off the bat, though, that the super-amazing mecha-delicious popcorn pretty much everyone in Japan – including our own Japanese staff – is raving about really isn’t worth all the hype.

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Rodman’s Japanese successor? Pyongyang to host international wrestling tournament

Move over Dennis Rodman–it looks like you’ve got a serious Japanese successor for all of your sports diplomacy. North Korea’s state news agency announced on May 19 that Japan’s Antonio Inoki, a retired Japanese professional wrestler, will be teaming up with officials in the reclusive totalitarian state to host an international professional wrestling tournament in Pyongyang this August. The tournament will also include athletes from two nations that have never participated in a wrestling event in North Korea under Kim Jong-un’s leadership. Find out how all this came to be after the jump.

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Japan’s Left 4 Dead arcade edition includes a schoolgirl and a bartender

As we announced earlier this month, Japan will get its own version of Left 4 Dead at four selected arcades beginning this weekend. However, the Square Enix and Valve collaboration will look a little different once Japanese gamers deposit their 100 yen coins into the machine. Although Left 4 Dead’s zombie apocalypse is still set in the United States, the undead exterminating main characters take the far less intimidating form of a schoolgirl, university student, bartender, and tour guide.

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Big Hero 6 gives Japan its first Disney hero 【Video】

After the huge success of Frozen, Disney fans are eagerly awaiting the next Disney project! Well, Japanese fans have a really good reason to rejoice! Walt Disney’s Animation Studio’s new movie, Big Hero 6, will feature the first Japanese protagonist!

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