IKEA Japan plans to overhaul workforce to promote equality among staff

IKEA Japan plans to overhaul workforce to promote equality among staff

The Japanese division of Swedish furniture chain IKEA recently announced that they will make large changes to their job descriptions including the elimination of fixed-term contracts for part-time workers.

The new job descriptions are said to begin this September and aim to create equal treatment for their 3,400 employees in Japan. Reports suggest that they may raise the salaries of all part-time staff who make up 70% of the company’s work force.

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Model criticised for posting mocked-up “drowning selfie” as South Korean ferry sinks

Model criticised for posting mocked-up “drowning selfie” as South Korean ferry sinks

It looks like we have another entry for the “People Reacting Inappropriately To Disasters” contest, as a South Korean male model has come in for fierce criticism after posting a bizarre photo of himself apparently pretending to drown, shortly after a  ferry sank off the coast of South Korea.

The picture, which shows 19-year-old Heo Jae-Hyuk submerged in the bathtub fully clothed, was posted on Instagram in the early hours of Thursday morning, and captioned “A fun game”. The eyes of the world have been on South Korea as the search for survivors of the ferry disaster continues, with almost 300 hundred passengers and crew still remaining unaccounted for.

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UNICEF produces 4-minute-long song about poop【Video】

UNICEF produces 4-minute-long song about poop【Video】

The newest song to hit India is about an unprecedented topic: poop. The song was written by Shri, celebrated composer of the promo song for Life of Pi, and the animated video features hordes of poo piles assailing horrified people holding their noses and running for their lives. Now why is UNICEF involved with something that sounds like the plot from a niche B-movie horror flick?

While most people in developed countries take it for granted that they can find a functioning bathroom anytime they need one, that is not true everywhere. In developing countries like India, sanitation has not always kept up with exploding populations. It’s estimated that half the country’s residents defecate in public, leading to a daily addition of 65 million kilograms (71,650 tons) of feces in public places. Almost none of the poorest 20% ever have access to toilets and have no choice but to defecate outdoors.

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“Daaangerrrr!” Fukuoka town experiments with new road markings

“Daaangerrrr!” Fukuoka town experiments with new road markings

Road signs are a dime a dozen out there. The typical driver usually only focuses on what is directly in front of their car, oblivious to almost everything else. Advertisers know though, that it is possible to catch the eye of the driver. They choose strange images or bold words to catch their attention. It really works! How many times can you remember looking at a sign because it was abnormal?

A small town in Fukuoka Prefecture has been taking notes and have come up with their own unusual traffic signs to help slow down cars on some of their dangerous roads.

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Visit Kiki’s Bakery at a unique fairytale village in Japan

Visit Kiki’s Bakery at a unique fairytale village in Japan

In Kyushu, Japan, there’s a tiny little village that’s drawing in visitors from across the world. Part Ghibli fantasy, part English Cotswolds, the town houses an Alice in Wonderland store, a Peter Rabbit petting zoo, and a bread shop modelled on the bakery in Kiki’s Delivery Service. And if you can’t bear to tear yourself away from the gorgeous shop-fronts and blossoming gardens, there’s a hotel where you can stay and gaze out at the cluster of cottages from the comfort of your own room. We step into the fantasy world and take a closer look at the shops, restaurants and services on offer in this special little town.

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Kimchi cocktail offers a taste of Korea that no Korean would actually endorse

Kimchi cocktail offers a taste of Korea that no Korean would actually endorse

You’ve probably heard of a Bloody Mary, a popular cocktail with a base of vodka and tomato juice, plus a host of other weird and wonderful flavourings such as Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce, horseradish, celery, pepper, salt, lemon juice, and so on. It may not sound appetizing but it has plenty of devotees, although that may be more to do with its reputation as a ‘hair of the dog’ hangover cure rather than its taste. But if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the even more exotic flavours of a spicy Korean kimchi version?

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Fighter discovers Japanese giant hornet in his apartment, hilarity ensues 【Video】

Fighter discovers Japanese giant hornet in his apartment, hilarity ensues 【Video】

When people talk about Japan, they usually talk about its beautiful landscapes, rich culture, and delicious food. They talk about the cherry blossom in spring, the soft, powder snow in winter, the deep red autumn leaves, and the summers that, while swelteringly hot, go perfectly with a big glass of cold Japanese beer.

What they don’t talk about are the bugs.

Although Japan has nothing on “Don’t Touch That, It’ll Probably Kill You” Australia, it nevertheless has its fair share of creepy-crawlies, and the oosuzumebachi, or Japanese Giant Hornet is perhaps the worst of the bunch. It’s still only April, but it would seem that the Japanese branch of Satan’s striped servants are already out and about, and getting into people’s apartments, no less…

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Professor Mega Man! Legendary game producer Keiji Inafune to lecture at Osaka college

Professor Mega Man! Legendary game producer Keiji Inafune to lecture at Osaka college

Despite working for video game publisher Capcom for over 20 years, Keiji Inafune didn’t really achieve international name-recognition until the tumultuous tail end of his time with the company. Even if they didn’t know his name, though, gamers everywhere were familiar with his work, as Inafune was involved with some of Capcom’s biggest hits, including Mega Man, Resident Evil, Onimusha, Street Fighter, and Dead Rising.

Inafune got his start as a character designer before moving up to a position as a producer. Now, he’s set to add one more title to his resume: college professor.

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The girl with the keyboard hat – Chinese fashion designer delights and baffles【Photos】

The girl with the keyboard hat – Chinese fashion designer delights and baffles【Photos】

One Weibo user has attracted a lot of attention overnight by posting her unconventional fashion designs. She has already gained nearly 75,000 followers, even though she has only been a member for 42 days. While some think it’s all a big joke, she may just be ahead of her time.

The designer doesn’t say much about her work; most of her posts are simply captioned “my design.” She models her own works, but her face is usually expressionless. It’s not surprising, as her designs - which mostly involve balancing computer keyboards, rocks, plastic bottles, and vegetables on her head - speak so loudly.

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Aerith from Final Fantasy VII’s home valued at nearly $2 million, “Nicest house in sector 5″

Aerith from Final Fantasy VII’s home valued at nearly $2 million, “Nicest house in sector 5″

Movoto, one of America’s biggest real estate agents, doesn’t just list property, it also has a blog and, more importantly, a very good sense of humour. A few months ago, the site treated manga and anime fans to a tour of Naruto Uzumaki’s house (on the market for just $100,000), but this week they have something special for gamers – the house that used to belong to Aerith from Final Fantasy VII.

If you’re interested in buying the property, though, we hope you’re feeling flush. With 1,176 square feet of floor space and the honour of being “the nicest house in Sector 5″, Aerith’s house is listed for nearly US$2 million, or 37,726,080 Gil to be exact.

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10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated

10 Japanese expressions that sound delightfully strange and funny when translated

A little while ago, we introduced you to the Japanese expression “hana yori dango” (dumplings over flowers), using a picture of one of our capybara friends at the Ueno Zoo as a living example of the phrase. Well, that article got us thinking about Japanese idioms/expressions that may sound strange or funny in a different language when translated literally, and we thought it might be interesting to share a few of them with you. Here are some common phrases that we use in the Japanese language as a matter of course, but could make you laugh if you visualize their literal meaning in your mind. And yes, some of them involve cats!

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Tokyo’s coin lockers to be out of service for week in effort to prevent terrorism

Tokyo’s coin lockers to be out of service for week in effort to prevent terrorism

Notices like the one above, which was posted on Twitter, have been popping up at major stations around Tokyo such as Shinjuku. It notifies commuters that coin lockers will be unusable from 19 to 25 April as a terrorism counter-measure.

How exactly does shutting down coin lockers prevent terrorism? The answer is quite simple… but a little confusing.

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With this robotics program thriving in public schools, it’s ‘cool to make mistakes again’

With this robotics program thriving in public schools, it’s ‘cool to make mistakes again’

Joe Dixon is Chief Learning Officer of Teq, a professional development company for teachers that aims to “champion the continued evolution of the modern classroom.” Lately that means getting lots of robots into the hands of schoolkids.

Specifically, Teq is bringing the NAO robot, a small humanoid from Aldebaran Robotics, into the classroom for educational applications. The bot is already in widespread use as a development platform for roboticists, and Teq leads weeklong school programs geared for students of all ages in getting the robot to do interesting things.

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We’re not going to lie…these sausage people currently trending in Japan freak us out

We’re not going to lie…these sausage people currently trending in Japan freak us out

A new trend is hitting the bento boxes of Japan right now and we are scared. Young children and hardworking spouses across the nation are sitting down at lunch time only to be visually assaulted by what they call “sausage people.” To most, these little weiners cut up to resemble a person seem harmless and most message boards in Japan praise the invention, with virtual screeches of the Japanese equivalent of “OMG, it’s so cute!” Well we have a newsflash for you, Japan. These sausage people, or “so-se-jin,” an adorable play on words of the Japanese word for “sausage” (so-se-ji) and “people” (jin), are down right terrifying. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at this photo compilation of sausage people found on sites across the web. Just be warned, you’ll never look at a sausage the same way again.

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Space sakura have returned to Earth with cherry blossom superpowers

Space sakura have returned to Earth with cherry blossom superpowers

Rather than wading into the debate as to whether a tree covered in beautiful cherry blossoms or a piece of cutting edge technology is the more representative symbol of Japan, you could split the difference by awarding the title to one of the sakura cherry trees grown from seeds that were taken into space. Not only do they combine the country’s admiration of both nature and innovation, their seeds’ journey to the stars seems to have imparted some of them with the amazing ability to bloom in just half the time of regular cherry trees.

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Krispy Kreme Japan makes the dessert of our dreams: Doughnut ice cream sundaes

Krispy Kreme Japan makes the dessert of our dreams: Doughnut ice cream sundaes

I don’t know about you, but whenever I walk by a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, I always peek at the “Hot Doughnut” sign to see if they’ve just recently finished making a batch of those delicious glazed doughnuts. And if that orange beacon is lit up, my wallet is going to be a few coins short while my tastebuds thank me through every last bite. Because, let’s face it, even if you’ve just had a massive lunch, there’s always room for a piping hot doughnut, fresh from the fryer.

And what makes warm baked goods even better? Ice cream of course. We can only assume that’s why Krispy Kreme Japan has unveiled a new doughnut ice cream sundae…but why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

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We take on Thailand’s five-and-a-half-pound hamburger, and live to tell the tale

We take on Thailand’s five-and-a-half-pound hamburger, and live to tell the tale

Our Japanese-language correspondent Kuzo is currently making his way through Thailand, and while we’re happy he had such a good time at the country’s famous water festival, frankly we’re a little worried about the guy. We think all the excitement may have frazzled his brain, since he recently sent us a batch of pictures of himself eating what appears to be a hamburger-shaped novelty pillow.

Wait, that’s a real burger?!

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Cassette tapes making a comeback with youth in Japan, entire generation officially becomes “old”

Cassette tapes making a comeback with youth in Japan, entire generation officially becomes “old”

For those of a certain age, hearing the term “cassette tape” harkens back to a simpler time of making a super special mix-tape for a loved one using a Frankie Goes to Hollywood Greatest Hits with scotch tape over the holes because it was cheaper than a blank cassette.

It’s this kind of feeling that kids today lack with the distant and impersonal music downloading business going on these days. Perhaps that’s why Japanese youths have been taking to the nearly extinct medium of magnetic tape more and more in recent years.

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Extremely well-behaved Chinese dogs “say Grace” before daily meal

Extremely well-behaved Chinese dogs “say Grace” before daily meal

I can’t even remember the last time I “said Grace” before a meal. It must have been before my teens, when my parents realized I was a Godless, hopeless heathen that shoveled food into my mouth so fast I couldn’t even taste it.

Which, I guess, puts my manners one level below four Chinese dogs that dutifully bow and lower their heads as their owner/trainer says a few words of thanks for their meal.

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One filmmaker’s mission to show the world the real Fukushima, and how you can help

One filmmaker’s mission to show the world the real Fukushima, and how you can help

“Forget the reactor. Forget all the bull$#!^ Facebook posts about how radiation is melting the starfish and mutating our sushi. Forget about what it means to be a disaster, and discover what it means to be Fukushima.”

Filmmaker Cameron Anderson is on a mission to show the world the real Fukushima. Having spend months exploring the region, he – an outsider arriving long after Fukushima became known the world over as the centre of a tragic nuclear accident – has come to learn what Japan’s third-largest prefecture is really all about. Cameron has also seen how the news, careless comments shared via social networks, and a general fear of the unknown have caused people around the globe to label this land as a giant, black spot on the map of Japan, with stories popping up online every few weeks about tides of non-existent radioactive seawater and the prefecture’s potentially hazardous exports.

Hoping to obtain a special filmmaking grant, it is Cameron’s plan to put together a 10-minute documentary that explores this vast, rich part of Japan and introduce some of its genuinely remarkable residents–both Japanese and foreign. But he needs your help.

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