Tuck yourself in for a good night’s read with a pillow lamp! The perfect gift for avid readers!

Tuck yourself in for a good night’s read with a pillow lamp! The perfect gift for avid readers!

Ever found yourself curled up with a book long after the sun has set? When it’s time to switch on the reading light and get back to your story, it’s never easy to find that perfect position where you can see the pages and avoid the light shining directly into your face. Plus, with the growing threat of light pollution disrupting our internal clocks, a good night’s sleep is now that much harder to catch. But German designer Simon Frambach has an interestingly squishy solution!

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NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

Naotake Odake, former managing director of the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and once director of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, spent years of his professional life traveling to cities across the globe in order to promote Tokyo as a worthwhile tourist destination. In his travels, he noticed a trait shared by all the major cities: they each had a unique and well-recognized landmark embodying the history and culture of the land. According to Odake, a structure of this sort is vital to bolstering a spirit of pride in any given population. Unfortunately for Tokyo, he believes that this sort of historical landmark is something that Japan’s capital city severely lacks. What he has against Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree, I’m really not sure. But, it is for this reason that Odake has taken the lead as the chairman of a non-profit organization which hopes to rebuild the Edo Castle’s innermost tower. “In order to present Tokyo as a proud tourist city, we need something like Edo Castle,” he says. But will the payoff really outweigh the costs?

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Pensioner pretends to be deceived by telephone fraud, helps catch criminals

Pensioner pretends to be deceived by telephone fraud, helps catch criminals

Telephone fraud is a serious problem in Japan and many elderly people fall victim to it each year. Known as “ore ore sagi“, fraudsters often pretend to be the call recipient’s son, using such lines as, “Mom, it’s me, it’s me! I’m in trouble!” to trick large sums of money from the unsuspecting party, and banks now post warnings next to their ATMs asking people only to send money if they’re 100-percent sure of who they’re sending it to.

Thanks to increased awareness of the problem, however, more and more people are beginning to see through this type of scam. One particularly clued-up 69-year-old who realized something was wrong, in fact, has recently been co-operating with local police by pretending that she had been duped by a call she received from fraudsters, ultimately leading to their arrests.

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How not to build client relationships: Barber in Japan steals kisses from towel-blinded client

How not to build client relationships: Barber in Japan steals kisses from towel-blinded client

Getting your hair cut can be a traumatic experience, but as a paying customer you would expect at least to be safe in your barber’s professional hands. Sadly, that has not always proved to be the case.

On 17 September, suspect Satoshi Okubo (40) was arrested on a charge of harassment by Hyogo Prefectural Police in Takarazuka city, Japan—for kissing a female customer at his barbershop. Okubo admits to the charge.

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Futuristic but grimy Nagasaki Station toilet proves Japan is really just “Blade Runner”

Futuristic but grimy Nagasaki Station toilet proves Japan is really just “Blade Runner”

A Nagaski area public toilet is proving that the future that Blade Runner envisioned is now, and it’s in Japan.

The public toilet in question is apparently about a 10-minute walk from the station proper, at an unassuming location near a pedestrian underpass. To even gain access to the toilet requires you to figure out a complex series of buttons and probably pass a retinal scan to ensure you aren’t a Replicant.

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Disney develops technology to speak to someone by touching their ear

Disney develops technology to speak to someone by touching their ear

Disney Research recently announced the development of Ishin-Den-Shin. As the name – which means “unspoken communication” in Japanese – implies, it’s a microphone that can capture your spoken words and let you pass it on to other people by simply touching them on the ear.

If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Ishin-Den-Shin, that may sound a bit weird, but once we break down how it works you’ll see why the device’s creators received an honorable mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 2013.

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The ultimate in lazy gaming: Ingenious tablet cushion demoed at Tokyo Game Show 2013

The ultimate in lazy gaming: Ingenious tablet cushion demoed at Tokyo Game Show 2013

We’ve all been there: you’ve got your shiny new laptop, smartphone or tablet computer and you’re lounging around on the floor at home, watching videos on YouTube, tapping away at Plants Vs. Zombies… when suddenly your pampered, first-world body throws a hissy hit. “I’m tired! Why do I always have to hold all the expensive electronic devices!?” it moans as you start to lose the feeling in your arm or your left leg goes to sleep. You wriggle around and find a new position, but before long your body’s complaining again and you just can’t get comfy.

Oh, wouldn’t it be great if there were something – a piece of furniture perhaps – that would hold your tablet or computer for you while you did massively unimportant web browsing and lay on the floor!?

Enter the Goron tablet cushion, which not only supports your head and neck while you laze around, but comes complete with an adjustable holder for tablets, laptops and even small monitors! Yep, gamers just got that little bit lazier!

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Tokyo Game Show 2013: The games, the girls, and the awesome plushies 【Photos】

Tokyo Game Show 2013: The games, the girls, and the awesome plushies 【Photos】

It’s that time of year again! Tokyo Game Show 2013 is now in full swing and its second press and business day is well underway. This coming weekend, the event will be open to the public, offering video game and tech fans the chance to play some of the newest games and catch a glimpse of upcoming titles, not to mention try out that brand new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware for themselves.

Being the enormous video game nerds that we are, we headed over to the Makuhari Messe convention centre yesterday to check it out. And, since we love you, we even took a few photos while we were there, so step inside and experience the games, toys and booth babes of TGS 2013!

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Our reporter Mr. Sato becomes first Japanese buyer of a Docomo iPhone5S!

Our reporter Mr. Sato becomes first Japanese buyer of a Docomo iPhone5S!

In the early days of the iPhone in Japan it was under an exclusive contract with telecoms giant Softbank, which gradually gave way to AU availability as well. This left NTT’s Docomo, as the only big mobile carrier without any Apple product of its own.

However, coinciding with the Japanese launch of the new iPhone5S and iPhone5C today, Docomo has finally jumped on the iPhone bandwagon and is carrying the unit that so many people have been clamouring for. No one was more thrilled at the news then our own Mr. Sato, a long time Docomo subscriber. So he headed down to the Docomo store in Marunouchi to get one as soon as it came out. Turns out he was their very first customer.

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Just in time for fall: Hot yogurt you can chug

Just in time for fall: Hot yogurt you can chug

Japanese seem to love giving their drinks an unexpected twist. They’ve tried hot ginger ale, orange juice that looks like soy sauce, and a milk drink with tomato and lemon flavoring. Compared to those wacky creations, Yakult’s popular probiotic dairy drinks seem positively pedestrian, but now they’ve upped their game.

Care for a hot, potable yogurt, anyone?

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Magic mushrooms and what happens when you eat them【Video】

Magic mushrooms and what happens when you eat them【Video】

Many of us are warned when we’re children not to go picking mushrooms we’re unfamiliar with as they could be dangerous or possess hallucinogenic properties. But haven’t you ever wondered what happens when someone ignores these warnings and accidentally eats a magic mushroom anyway? It is not unusual to hear stories of the person becoming delirious or even oblivious to their actions after they’ve sobered up. But as they say, a picture tells a thousand words and when it comes to video footage, a whole new meaning emerges. Therefore, anyone curious about how someone behaves under the influence of these potent fungi, we urge you to check out the video footage below. It is likely to add a new depth of meaning to the dangers of picking species of mushrooms you’re unfamiliar with.

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60 percent of young, “irregular workers” in Japan want a do-over

60 percent of young, “irregular workers” in Japan want a do-over

“I hate this job.” Not exactly uncommon words, are they? While you may not necessarily love the work you do, it’s always nice to at least not hate your job, right? Unfortunately, it seems that all too many of us are stuck in life-draining professions, wishing we could start all over. And, it turns out, over half of young “irregular” Japanese workers can sympathize.

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Top 27 ugliest album covers from Yugoslavia 【Photos】

Top 27 ugliest album covers from Yugoslavia 【Photos】

As with any major business venture, presentation is very important when working in the music industry. Cool covers on brand new CD albums can inspire one to make a purchase without ever having heard the band. Granted, the Internet makes it easy to find a few demos before handing over your cash, but a well-designed jacket still makes a big difference. A great, eye-catching cover can make even the most mediocre album famous for its genre by drawing in attention from fans.

Then again, ugly covers can be just as eye-catching and somewhat endearing in their own way. Here we have a collection of hideous, old CD and record jackets that were probably purchased out of pity alone. Get ready to laugh at this collection of music covers that really missed the mark. From a list initially provided by a French entertainment site, we now bring you 27 of the ugliest album covers from the former Yugoslavia. Read More

His coolness is over 9,000!!! Vegeta’s voice actor starts a new rock band!

His coolness is over 9,000!!! Vegeta’s voice actor starts a new rock band!

Most Japanophiles in the world have heard of the smash hit anime, Dragonball Z. Recently the series gained yet another surge of popularity due to its 2009 remastered broadcast, hooking a whole new generation of fans. But how many viewers have kept up with the voice actors who worked on DBZ since the show’s final episodes aired? For instance, did you know that Ryo Horikawa, the voice of Saiyan prince, Vegeta, just recently started up a rock band?

Are his badass readings breaking your scouter yet? Just wait until you hear who else has joined his team…

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Too gross for TV? New mushroom series freaks us out

Too gross for TV? New mushroom series freaks us out

Kimokawaii is a relatively modern concept in Japan describing something that’s so kimoi (gross) it’s kawaii (cute). Well if that’s the case, this family of mushrooms is the most adorable thing we’ve ever seen. The Nameko Family is a new television series featuring Nameko, an anthropomorphic nameko mushroom, the slimy fungi often found in miso soup, and features an entire household full of deformed, strange and down right kimoi characters. But has this new show crossed the line, being too gross for even the biggest kimokawaii fan to find cute?

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From garbage to gourmet: Six famous spots in Osaka that people in Tokyo don’t know exist

From garbage to gourmet: Six famous spots in Osaka that people in Tokyo don’t know exist

Japan is a relatively small country but sometimes the regional differences can be night and day. Tokyo and Osaka, for example, can feel like completely different planet to the residents of each in terms of language and habits.

The following six places in Osaka are a good example of these differences. The names of each of these places could be dropped to a local in conversation without so much of a flinch. However, these same Osaka residents might be shocked to learn that people in Tokyo have no idea that such places exist.

In no particular order here are the six hidden (unless you live here!) gems of Osaka.

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Former Nintendo head and video gaming legend Hiroshi Yamauchi passes away

Former Nintendo head and video gaming legend Hiroshi Yamauchi passes away

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former head of video game giant Nintendo who helmed the company during its period of skyrocketing growth in the 1980s and 90s, has passed away at the age of 85. The entertainment visionary succumbed to pneumonia on September 19.

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Do not adjust your monitor – Hitachi Seaside Park really looks like this

Do not adjust your monitor – Hitachi Seaside Park really looks like this

I always have a tough time transitioning to autumn in Japan. Sure, the lower humidity means I can stop sweating for the first time in three months, but it’s a little disappointing leaving the office in the evening and finding the skies already completely dark. In my book, a persimmon is a poor substitute for a nice slice of watermelon. And while my wife does indeed look stylish in her snappy fall coat, if I’m being completely honest, I’d still rather see her in a bathing suit at the beach.

However, there is one saving grace to autumn: the dazzling array of fall colors. Hitachi Seaside Park may share part of its name with the electronics manufacturer founded in the same city, but there’s no technological wizardry going on here. The vivid vermillion of its foliage is 100 percent natural.

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“You’re taking peeping photos, aren’t you?” Smartphone extortion scam hits hard in Shinjuku

“You’re taking peeping photos, aren’t you?” Smartphone extortion scam hits hard in Shinjuku

Many would agree that smartphones are the easiest and most convenient way to stay entertained no matter where you go, provided there’s reception. Although, they do distract us from what’s happening in the immediate vicinity. Texting and checking apps while walking through the streets of a busy city can lead to collisions with people or signposts, or even traffic if one isn’t careful! Now, a recent string of scams in Tokyo shows that the distractedness we experience when on our phones also make us a target. Read More

We visit beautiful, bucolic Shirakawa-go to escape Tokyo’s hustle and bustle

We visit beautiful, bucolic Shirakawa-go to escape Tokyo’s hustle and bustle

Amazing as Japan’s metropolises are, after spending enough time in some of the most densely populated spots on the planet, urban fatigue starts to set in. There’s nothing like a getaway to the countryside to refresh your spirits after one too many days scurrying around downtown in packed train and subway cars.

The Shirakawa-go district, located in Gifu Prefecture, is close enough to Tokyo or Osaka that it makes an easy weekend escape for residents, as well as a simple side trip for overseas tourists crisscrossing the country. In terms of atmosphere, though, Shirakawa-go is worlds away from Japan’s largest cities.

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