A better use for your smartphone than Angry Birds: Remotely driving your car!

It’s only a matter of time until we’re all riding around in self-driving cars, texting our hearts out without having to worry about running anyone over. With all the companies working on the technology, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before you can slip into your automated automobile and say, “Carrie, take me to the bar!”

Unfortunately, “a matter of time” could very well be a few decades for all we know. So maybe we need to limit our dreams a bit. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could, at the very least, get our cars to pick us up outside the mall with an app on our phones? Yeah, that’ll probably never happen.

Or will it??

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Cappucino art that’s out of this world: Twitter cappuccino artist shows off his extraterrestrial skills

We’ve seen some pretty cool latte art over the years, but this might be the most, um, unusual we’ve spotted. It’s not exactly cute, but it certainly is out of this world!

From aliens to bunnies to Ghibli’s Catbus, this guy does it all in 3-D foam sculptures atop cups of coffee!

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Japanese food presentation: Pro tips on making dishes you can devour with your eyes and mouth

Japanese food has been gaining in popularity all over the world, and with the induction of traditional Japanese cooking, or washoku, as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, locals are expecting interest to rise further.

If you’d like to branch out a bit from your usual sushi rolls and try your hand at some washoku recipes, not only taste but also presentation is key. We’ve collected a handful of simple tips from the pros on how to make your Japanese cooking look as good as it tastes.

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We try McDonald’s Japan’s new “Classic Fries with Cheese”

When McDonald’s Japan announced recently a rolling set of new menu items based on supposedly classic American recipes, the majority of the Internet – recalling how awesome the Big America series was – collectively foodgasmed in anticipation.

Unfortunately, now that the first items are finally here, consumer reviews have viciously skewered the new “Classic Fries with Cheese,” with comments ranging from, “This is unpleasant” to “This tastes like sloth pee.” Questions of how some Netizens know what sloth pee tastes like aside, it’s safe to conclude opinions are widely divided. So, of course, fast food connoisseurs that we are, we had to try the item for ourselves and throw our hat into the public debate ring.

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Watch the “world’s largest firework” go off 【Video】

That bad boy pictured above is the Yonshakudama (Four Shaku Ball) and it claims to be largest single firework in the world. At a pot-smoker pleasing weight of 420kg (926lbs) and with a diameter of 1.2m (4 feet), most people tend to take the maker’s word for it.

Fireworks of this immense size are launched during a show at the Katakai Festival in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture and are said to have a beautiful blast radius of 800m (2,625 feet). But enough talk. Let’s kick the tires and light some fires watching them in action thanks to a video uploaded to YouTube by Temple Fireworks.

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Truck spills its load over road in rural China, pilfering locals ordered away at gunpoint

You’ve probably heard the story before: a truck carrying fishgrapes or some other foodstuff overturns on a rural road in China; minutes later dozens of people are on the scene shoving as much of it as they can into plastic bags. Often the people filling their pockets are simply living in poverty and, laws be damned, aren’t going to miss the chance to procure some free food, making it difficult to condemn them.

This time, when a truck spilled its cargo on a road in Lanzhou, China, authorities were on the scene in a flash to stop the mob of villagers that had quickly descended on the scattered fruit. When the police felt the need to start pointing guns at women old enough to be their grandmothers, however, it certainly raised a few eyebrows online.

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Festive bikini-clad volunteer randomly giving directions in Chinese subway

If you’ve ever found yourself lost in one of Asia’s complex subway systems, you’re not alone. Since underground rail is the preferred form of transportation in many of Asia’s sprawling cities with hundreds of stops, subway maps, even those printed on the back of your necktie, tend to look like the aftermath of an infant feeding itself a plate of spaghetti unsupervised, and can easily confound locals too.

So it’s good news that a newscaster in Guangdong Province, China – whose dresser apparently teleports all of her normal clothes to Narnia – has decided to help commuters navigate the area’s labyrinthine subway system on a strictly volunteer basis.

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Are your “healthy” new year’s resolutions harder than you thought? Try some Rilakkuma tofu!

It’s only Wednesday, and already we’ve seen two brand new Rilakkuma products–clearly Japan’s favourite little bear is going to have a good year. Thankfully, this one won’t hurt your bank balance quite like the ear-toting Rilakkuma sofa we showed you yesterday. What you see before you are blocks of tofu designed especially for fans of the lethargic teddy, each featuring imprints of his face. Tofu may not be the most exciting foodstuff in the world, but we’re fairly sure this would help liven it up.

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New product stirs your natto 424 times to bring out its ultimate flavor

Whether you love it or won’t go near the stuff, there’s no denying that natto is an important part of the Japanese diet. The fermented soybeans are notorious for scaring foreigners away with their pungent odor and sticky strands. If you’re someone who’s not convinced that natto could ever taste good, then keep reading: Japanese corporation Takara Tomy Arts has recently announced a new product that guarantees the ultimate natto dining experience. Introducing the new Natto Flavor Enhancing Machine.

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A look at New York’s first maid cafe

For better or worse, Japanese culture has made its way to the US and now sushi, cosplay, anime, and a number of other bizarre hybrids (sake bombs, anyone?) are fully integrated into American life. Now it seems maid cafes, those sickeningly sweet pink restaurants where waitresses act as servants, have made their way across the Pacific.

Located in New York City’s Chinatown, Maid Cafe NY brings a little bit of one of Japan’s strange subcultures to the United States. But will American patrons feel comfortable being greeted by cute maids in frilly outfits saying, “Welcome home my master and my princess”? Let’s take a closer look at Maid Cafe NY and find out.

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Five fun facts about the flag of Japan

You’ve seen it flying high above government buildings and waved wildly during the Olympics, but how well do you actually know the Japanese flag? Let’s take a look at five facts about that familiar dotted flag.

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How glam is your pussy? Cat wigs hot in 2014

Meet Shiro and Mimi, just two of the stars of Kago Neko, a blog all about one Japanese cat fan’s pets. Sadly, the pair were not, in fact, born with such luscious barnets, but their owner, perhaps sensing their inner glam rock star, provided them with a couple of rather fetching blonde wigs. We think you’ll agree that they look pretty rockin’.

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Chinese restaurant has the most epic English menu of all time

One of the biggest obstacles of traveling in a country where you don’t speak the local language and English is not commonly spoken is ordering food. If you could read maps, you would probably be able to navigate around even if you don’t understand the native language, but if you can’t read the restaurant menu, ordering at meal time would be like playing a round of Russian Roulette.

Some restaurants attempt to make things easier for their patrons by including English translations on their menu, which could be a lifesaver for foreigners. But somebody ought to tell this restaurant’s owner that Google translate isn’t the foolproof method…

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Gamers rejoice! China temporarily lifts 14-year ban on foreign video games consoles

Despite the thriving grey market that has existed since the ban was put in place 14 years ago, both gamers in China and console manufacturers outside the country will no doubt be excited to learn that China’s State Council yesterday lifted restrictions on the importation and sale of foreign video games consoles, albeit on a “temporary” basis. That’s right: China may soon became a legitimate market for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft once again.

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The top 10 things cool guys do on the trains of Japan

Have you ever looked over while riding the Yamanote Line and saw the coolest guy you’ve ever seen? Sure he was probably wearing fashionable clothes and had great hair, but what was he doing? A poll conducted by Japanese mobile phone provider, NTT Docomo, reveals the top 10 things cool guys do on the train.

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Dark Souls Cafe opens to fans of punishing game series

After a month or so of breathless preview coverage, the brand new Dark Souls Cafe, based on the award-winning, but notoriously difficult, From Software action game is finally open for business.

The new cafe channels the next game in the series, Dark Souls 2, which is slated for a March 13 release in Japan.

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This Rilakkuma-themed sofa is soft on your bottom, hard on your wallet

Rilakkuma, whose name is a combination of the words “relax” and “kuma” (meaning bear in Japanese), is one of Japan’s more deserving popular characters. Created back in 2003, the lazy little bear with a zip on his back became an instant hit with a series of picture books and cuddly toys, and continues to be adored almost 10 years on–a feat that few cute-for-the-sake-of-it mascots besides Hello Kitty could ever boast.

Now, a furniture maker in Japan is offering Rilakkuma fans the chance to purchase an original order-made sofa based on their favourite po-faced bear. But with a price tag of almost US$2,000, their bank balances will have to be just as healthy as their love of all things cute and cuddly to afford it.

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The evolution of one cat’s pestering skills 【Video】

Meet Leo-chan, an American shorthair cat living in Japan who is a master at being both annoying and adorable at the same time. Check out this video of her adorable poses as she begs for food.  

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Town offers “Mayor for a Day” with tax payment of over one million yen, benefits include sake, pickles

Starting this year, the town of Mamurogawa in Yamagata Prefecture is offering up their mayor’s office for those generous enough to hand over one million yen (US$9,600) in furusato tax (hometown tax). It’s the latest move in an increasing trend of offering premiums for tax revenue in rural areas struggling with decreasing populations.

Offering something in exchange for taxes seems like an odd concept without knowing what furusato tax is, so let start with that. Don’t worry it’s simple.

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Where Santa Claus buys his burgers: the world’s northernmost McDonald’s

Everyone, do you know where the world’s northernmost McDonald’s is? Here’s a hint: you can sometimes spot the aurora borealis from there. Our Japanese reporter recently headed up north to check it out and brought back some very cool photos that we wanted to share with you.

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