Google’s Street View takes privacy to a whole new level in Japan【Photos】

Since 2001, the Google Street View truck has been rolling through neighborhoods all over the world, taking photos of our towns and city streets in order add to its parent company’s enormous library of 3D street-level images. In the search for the perfect panoramic image, however, Google doesn’t always have time to wait around for the streets they’re mapping to clear, leading to the occasional unintentional photobomber.

Luckily, Google also has a pretty advanced facial technology recognition system, used to blur out the faces of those caught on camera as a way of protecting their privacy. The only caveat is that sometimes it works a little too well, and to hilarious results.

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Kid faithfully emulates classic arcade game Xevious out of paper in arts and crafts class

In these days of modern video games, people seem to be losing sight of what gaming is all about. In all the glitz and glamour of motion control and Hollywood actors lending their voices and likeness to games, it sometimes feels like we’ve forgotten that games are meant to be incredibly difficult, repetitive tasks performed for an arbitrary and intangible reward system of “points.”

This is incredibly valuable experience to prepare young minds for entering the workforce, but thanks to free-roaming environments and checkpoints-a-plenty, we’ve gone from a generation of Mr. Do!‘s to bunch of Mr. Don’t!‘s.

But this nine-year-old kid, whose art class project based on a classic arcade shooter is shown above, gets it. And mark my words, he will become the future leader of this nation.

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Can robot taxis help rural Japanese towns facing depopulation? This touching commercial says yes!

Google’s self-driving cars have gone from being a quizzical project that only the geekiest of geeks cared about to a very real possible future. Of course, Google isn’t the only company making forays into automated transportation, so it’s hardly a surprise that Japanese companies are also working on such technology.

But where Google’s self-driving cars basically look like tiny adorable bugs, Japan’s Robot Taxi is looking to solve the various transportation issues facing Japan—both urban and rural—with one magic bullet. Will they be successful? We have no idea, but this touching commercial will definitely have you rooting for them!

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The top five Ghibli sequels that Japanese moviegoers would like to see

It’s been 30 years since Studio Ghibli began producing the adorable characters, inspiring storylines and amazing animated scenes that we all know and love. The warmth of the animation house’s distinctive style has created worlds so captivating it’s almost as if our favourite characters might continue on their journey after the credits finish rolling to live in an alternate animated Ghibli universe alongside our own.

So what if there were a way to catch up with all our Ghibli friends to see how they’ve been getting along? Which stories would fans like to explore further, decades after they were originally created? If semi-retired director Hayao Miyazaki ever needed a reason to come back to making movies full-time, he might like to consider the following list of five Ghibli sequels Japanese moviegoers would most like to see.

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Playful leaping cat melts hearts online as it entreats its fellow feline to play

An energetic cat can sometimes seem less like a fuzzy animal and more like a spring bouncing wildly around the house. Fortunately, not every cat is so hyperactive, but there certainly plenty that are — and they love attention too! But nothing shows the dichotomy of excitable kitties and lazy cats like these tweets of one Twitter user’s adorable rescue cats.

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Japanese artisan keeps traditional culture of yabumi alive with this adorable arrow letter set

From carrier pigeons to messages in bottles, there’s something uniquely appealing about using the forces of nature to carry a passage of prose between two human beings. With Japan’s long history of archery, messages once travelled through the air in the form of yabumi (lit. arrow text), a folded letter attached to an arrow that acted as a speedy delivery service between individuals or warring clans.

Sadly, the culture of yabumi dwindled and gradually disappeared as we moved slowly towards the world of much less dangerous (though sometimes just as impactful) emails and instant messaging. One traditional artisan is keeping the culture alive though, with a new letter set that contains everything you need to create your own yabumi, this time with adorable, user-friendly arrows.

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Five beautiful pylon designs that belong in Japan

Whenever we see something that’s cute, huge and blows our minds, we generally look to Japan as the source behind the creation. While they’ve proved they can be design innovators in oversized sushi, and the creation of fluffy giant cats, there’s one area where Japan has a lot to learn from other countries, and its something that exists around the country in abundance: power lines.

Often seen towering over rice fields, propped up on the side of mountains and jutting out beyond the high rises, wouldn’t it be significantly more amazing if the ordinary-looking transmission tower had the occasional smiley face or pair of gigantic arms like a colossal Titan? We take a look at some amazing electricity pylon designs from around the world, in the hope that one day, Japan will turn its keen design eye in their direction.

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Japan’s newest Shinkansen is world’s fastest gallery, packed with contemporary art inside and out

From an engineering standpoint, Japan’s famed Shinkansen is already a work of art. Recently, though, the country’s bullet trains have been putting a renewed effort into their appearance, taking inspiration from centuries-old tradition and science-fiction anime.

The latest Shinkansen to be unveiled, though, incorporates design cues more modern than tatami reed floors yet not as futuristic as giant robots. Instead, it’s envisioned as a travelling gallery of contemporary art, allowing for what operator East Japan Railways calls “the world’s fastest art appreciation.”

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At 41, Ichiro Suzuki continues to amaze by making professional pitching debut

Even if you’re not a fan of baseball, you’ve probably heard of Ichiro Suzuki. He was a starter for the Seattle Mariners for a number of years before heading to New York to play for the Yankees and then to the Miami Marlins for the 2015 season. He’s broken a number of records, received dozens of awards and is widely known to be a charismatic and respectful player. Since his debut as a professional baseball player, he’s played almost exclusively in the outfield because of his wicked throwing arm.

As one of Japan’s most prolific baseball stars, the country and the Internet collectively lost its mind when Ichiro pitched one full inning on the last day of the Major League Baseball regular season.

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Japan’s latest awkward invention: the chair-umbrella 【Pics & Video】

Japanese inventions have a reputation for being incredibly awesome, incredibly bizarre, and, um, even more incredibly bizarre. And this latest creation is no exception: say hello to the chair-umbrella.

Ever needed a seat but all you had was a stupid, useless umbrella? Well never again! Just turn this amazing invention upside-down, open it up, sit on down, and prepare to be stared at and asked if you need to be taken to a hospital.

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The LifeStraw can make all kinds of water drinkable, but does it work on urine? 【Video】

Have you heard of the LifeStraw? It’s a small water filter designed for one person that removes virtually all bacteria and parasites from unclean water. It has saved lives all over the world during natural disasters, helped areas with unclean drinking water, and even won awards for how effective it is.

But of course we had one question for the LifeStraw: can it make pee drinkable? If it’s truly such an amazing device, can it make drinkable water during the worst possible circumstances?

We put it to the test, so read on to see if a LifeStraw will need to be part of your zombie apocalypse kit.

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Häagen-Dazs’ awesome mochi ice creams with black sugar syrup and sweet miso glaze are coming back

Last February, we had the opportunity to combine our loves for Japanese food and ice cream when Häagen-Dazs released a line of ice cream topped by mochi rice cakes and flavored like traditional Japanese confectionaries. We got our hands on one flavor and were blown away by how amazing it tasted, and so was the rest of Japan.

Before long, the supplies of both flavors of mochi ice cream were exhausted, and the freezer sections of convenience stores and supermarkets across Japan has always looked a little lonelier in their absence. Now, though, Häagen-Dazs has announced that its kinako kuromitsu and mitarashi kurumi mochi ice creams, featuring roasted soybean flour, black sugar syrup, sweet soy glaze, and walnuts, are making a triumphant return.

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Japanese man’s parents present Notice of Expiration of Child-Rearing Services on 20th birthday

Unlike in the U.S., legal adulthood in Japan doesn’t begin until the age of 20. But while that means an extra two years to enjoy the benefits and protection society affords to minors, everyone has to grow up sometime, and for one Japanese Twitter user the transition was especially abrupt.

On his 20th birthday as his parents presented him with a written notice congratulating him on graduating from childhood and celebrating his newfound freedoms, while spelling out exactly what they, and the world, now expected of him as an adult.

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Marutaro the hedgehog is still as cute as a button, and now he’s a family hedgehog! 【Pics】

When we first met Marutaro the hedgehog last year, he was just about the cutest thing we’d seen in months. Now, over 12 months later, we have to say that’s still the case! And it looks like the adorable little spike ball is only getting more and more popular—popularity that we’d say is well deserved.

In case you haven’t been following Marutaro on Twitter, we’ve decided to round up a few of our new favorite photos and videos of the little guy being adorable, as well as some family photos. Get your fill of loveable cuteness below!

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Open stall indicators, fresh flowers, and the superb cleanliness of a Japanese highway restroom

On long car trips in the U.S., I didn’t really find the prospect of using a highway rest stop bathroom significantly more appealing than just holding it until I got to my destination, whether that meant waiting until the next city or the next state. Honestly, given how filthy a lot of the public toilets were, I was generally happier with a deserted stretch of road or a grove of trees I could pull over near.

In Japan, though, it’s a different story, as this video of a rest stop bathroom shows it to be cleaner and classier than the one in many people’s homes.

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Lifelike dolls created by legendary Goyo Hirata amaze Twitter users, leave us speechless

Japan is full of national treasures, from beautiful nature spots to old architecture, but one of the most interesting classes of national treasures is the living kind. Masters of their crafts, these national treasures often represent the heights of Japanese arts — including doll making! But we’re not talking about G.I. Joe figures or Barbie dolls, we’re talking about works of art that look less like toys and more like real people frozen in time.

Goyo Hirata was exactly that kind of artist, and once you see some of his creations, you’ll agree that he was definitely deserving of the status of Living National Treasure. Though Hirata passed away in 1981, his work is still celebrated today and no less amazing.

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Turn your smartphone into a magical girl with two new Sailor Moon iPhone cases

As of last month, the line of Sailor Moon lingerie is back on sale again, helping fans of the series unleash their inner Sailor Senshi with some anime-themed innerwear. Now that you’ve got your intimate apparel needs filled, if you’re troubled by your smartphone being completely naked there’s a similar solution in the form of these Sailor Moon costume iPhone cases!

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Oita lures travelers with wonderful montage of synchronized hot spring bathing 【Video】

Japan may be a small country in terms of area, but it certainly makes up for it with 47 distinct prefectures that have their own vibrant personalities. Prefectures like Tokyo and Osaka dominate with their big city lifestyles, while Kyoto and Nara rely on their richly preserved history. Some have festivals that have survived for hundreds of years, others have geological formations that make them stand out or new attractions that you can’t find anywhere else.

For prefectures to separate themselves from the rest and showcase what makes them special, they have to do something grand. In Oita Prefecture, this means presenting their world-famous hot springs with a synchronized swimming team in what can only be known as “synchronized bathing”.

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Lexus pays homage to its Japanese workers by building a driveable origami car out of cardboard

Lexus has always admired the skills of the craftsmen and women who work on their production lines in Japan. Known as takumi, these highly trained Japanese production workers hone their dexterity skills by learning to fold an origami cat in 90 secondsusing only their non-dominant hand.

Now, Lexus UK has unveiled a stunning tribute to these skilled workers by creating a life-sized replica of the Lexus IS, using 1,700 pieces of laser-cut cardboard in what they’re calling the “Origami Car”. Complete with an electric motor, the cardboard vehicle can actually be driven. With the cardboard seats and interior, it won’t be an entirely practical, or legal, ride, but it would certainly be a memorable one!

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A photo tour of the JAL “Premium Night” at Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan (USJ), one of Osaka’s most popular tourist attractions, was hired out for an exclusive event on September 24 for an events called JAL Premium Night. As many of you will know, Japan Airlines, or JAL, is the official airline of USJ and was offering the chance for lucky ticket holders to attend this after-hours event.

And, as luck would have it, one of very own RocketNews24 reporters attended the spectacular event and was fortunate enough to enjoy the exclusive JAL Premium Night, snapping a load of photos for the rest of us to enjoy!

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