How many abandoned bicycles can fit in just one Tokyo pond?

How many abandoned bicycles can fit in just one Tokyo pond?

One of the odder problems you run into living in Japan is how to throw large things away. Say you’ve just bought a new bicycle, for example. In many countries you could find a charity to donate it to, or perhaps a relative or friend of a friend who’s just starting college or a career.

Japan’s predominantly middle-class society and general dislike of used durable goods means you’re unlikely to find someone willing to take your old bike off your hands, though. Trash collectors won’t haul off something that big unless you shell out an additional fee, either. In some cases, people will simply abandon their bike somewhere, such as a back alley or deserted parking lot.

Or, apparently, in a lake in one of Tokyo’s most beloved parks.

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School kids in Japan learn about bugs, terrifying miniature horse-beasts and baby Ohmus

School kids in Japan learn about bugs, terrifying miniature horse-beasts and baby Ohmus

Back when I was a kid growing up in Liverpool, we studied only the subjects that were essential for daily life: namely Numbers, Words, Throwing, and of course a selection of moves from the 1983 romantic drama Flashdance. There was no time for art or creativity, and we were only ever allowed outdoors to collect firewood or when the time came to offer up a sacrifice to The Beast.

So it’s great to see that school kids in Japan are given a chance to learn the things that really matter, like identifying a Japanese rhinoceros beetle from a lineup of frightening, hopefully imaginary, creatures.

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Sanrio’s Evangelion line-up keeps getting cuter and cuter

Sanrio’s Evangelion line-up keeps getting cuter and cuter

Yes, you read that correctly. Sanrio has a line of Evangelion merchandise. Naturally, it’s all adorable.

Called “Eva Micro Macro,” the line was announced late last year, and already includes smartphone cases, with t-shirts to come in April 2014.

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Love Japanese sake? These 10 breweries recommended by Japanese alcohol enthusiasts will wet your whistle!

Love Japanese sake? These 10 breweries recommended by Japanese alcohol enthusiasts will wet your whistle!

There are three requirements for brewing up a perfect batch of Japanese sake: rice, water and cold weather. Now, with many breweries opening their factories for a limited time during the winter months, it’s the ideal time for visitors to Japan to learn more about the national tipple. Tours walk you through the brewing process as it happens, with tips and information often provided by the master brewer, or tōji, himself, followed by a sake tasting to top off the experience. If you’d like to get far away from the well-worn tourist path and into the heart of some fantastic drinking experiences, we’ve got the list for you.

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We try french fries and chocolate sauce at Lotteria Japan

We try french fries and chocolate sauce at Lotteria Japan

We all know that there are few combinations that are better than dipping your french fries in a vanilla shake. The hot, salty fries mixed with cold, sweet ice cream…it’s a match made in cheeseburger paradise. But fries and chocolate? Japanese fast food chain, Lotteria, is betting you’ll make the jump from shakes to chocolate syrup with their new menu item. We knew we had to send Mr. Sato out to give this crazy combo a try.

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Japanese designer creates collection of gorgeous perfume bottles based on Disney villains

Japanese designer creates collection of gorgeous perfume bottles based on Disney villains

While Disney princesses have seen their stock steadily rising for the past several years, it seems the villains from the renowned animation house are finally getting their due, such as with the upcoming Angelina Jolie film Maleficent. Perhaps this is connected to the recent crop of dark fairy tale reimaginings such as TV series Once Upon a Time and Grimm, and the opportunities for greater complexity presented by antagonists make them more compelling characters for adults to watch. Or, maybe after enough viewings, the characters we love to hate slowly metamorphose into the characters we simply love.

For the woman who is mature enough to appreciate the dark sophistication of these characters over the bubbly effervescence of their tales’ respective heroes and heroines, as well as enjoy a spritz of an enchanting scent, there’s no better way to store her fragrances than with a set of perfume bottles shaped like Disney villains.

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Japanese women reveal their biggest expenditures ever

Japanese women reveal their biggest expenditures ever

A while back, I’d been struggling for months with an old laptop that took a solid 30 minutes to start up each morning. My repeated attempts to rectify the problem, using the most advanced electronics trouble shooting techniques known to me (hurling every curse word I knew in both English and Japanese at the screen), only proved successful in cutting the waiting time down to 29 minutes, unfortunately.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and bought a new laptop. Despite my lovely and crafty wife talking the salesman into a 3,000 yen (US$30) discount, it was still the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. Not that I’m complaining of course. It works great, and since almost all of my work, in-home entertainment, and overseas correspondence is done through my PC, my life is honestly better for having purchased it.

You can’t always count on being completely satisfied every time you drop a giant wad of cash on something, though. Japanese women’s Internet portal My Navi Woman recently released the results of its survey on working women’s biggest expenditures, and whether or not they got hit with a dose of buyer’s remorse afterwards.

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Dogo Onsen to exhibit works by famous artists in Japan, let you spend the night in them

Dogo Onsen to exhibit works by famous artists in Japan, let you spend the night in them

At Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, 2014 marks the 120th anniversary of the spa’s main building which stands as a notable landmark of the area. It’s a majestic and traditional building that some say was the inspiration for the bathhouse in Spirited Away.

To celebrate, the surrounding area will be hosting a large scale art exhibition in which the Onsen’s main building and at least ten other hotels and inns will be transformed into works by various modern artists. The actual event will run from 10 April to 31 December of this year, but a sneak peak was held from December of last year involving five prominent Japanese artists: Fujio Ishimoto, Yayoi Kusama, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Akira Minagawa, and Araki Nobuyoshi.

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Japanese university has only one student, presumably lackluster campus life

Japanese university has only one student, presumably lackluster campus life

When it comes to education, most people put a high value on a low teacher-to-student ratio. If that is true, then St. Thomas University in Japan must be one hell of a deal, seeing as they currently have exactly one enrolled student.

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Hairstyles from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures no less unusual in real life

Hairstyles from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures no less unusual in real life

Back in October, cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido held its Japan Original Beauty exhibition at the company’s new building in Tokyo’s swanky Ginza district. One of the highlights of the show was a recreation of a portion of the pantheon of characters in long-running manga and anime series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, with special effort placed on duplicating the cast’s wildly styled and colored hairdos.

But with over 100 collected volumes of comics in the series, obviously every character couldn’t be fit into the display. So Shiseido is back again with a group of new additions to its collection of real-life Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures models.

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Japanese airline ANA causes controversy by airing “racist” commercial

Japanese airline ANA causes controversy by airing “racist” commercial

All Nippon Airways has landed in some hot water thanks to a recent commercial advertising the company’s new international routes to Vancouver and Hanoi. The 30 second clip features a Japanese actor speaking English and wearing a fake nose and blonde wig. But is the commercial inherently racist? It seems the vote is split in this particular case.

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Your iPhone is embarrassingly bad at simple math

Your iPhone is embarrassingly bad at simple math

The Cult of Apple is so smug about the many features and perks of the iPhone that it becomes a test of will for us Android users not to snatch any iPhone we see out of the hands of its user and throw it overhand into the nearest wall.

But now we may have a new weapon in the war on Apple: basic arithmetic. Seedy Japanese Internet geek forum 2chan has apparently proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that, when it comes to the calculator function, Apple’s smartphone is as dumb as that kid in your elementary school class that ate glue all day.

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Tensions in Ghana rising between locals and Chinese over gold

Tensions in Ghana rising between locals and Chinese over gold

Despite the frequent complaint in many nations about jobs being moved to China, not everyone in the planet’s most populous country can easily find work domestically. People from the country’s more impoverished regions sometimes see going overseas to be their only means of obtaining gainful employment, and over the last decade more than 500,000 Chinese nationals have moved to Ghana.

However, history is rife with examples of countries taking issue with sudden influxes of foreign workers or capital. In Ghana, it appears tensions are rising between Chinese workers and businesses and their Ghanaian hosts over one of the most historical measures of wealth, gold.

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Traditional Japanese porcelain ware goes for modern look — with stunning results!

Traditional Japanese porcelain ware goes for modern look — with stunning results!

Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the central west coast of the Japanese main island, is known for its fresh seafood and unique brand of locally grown Kaga vegetables, as well as being home to the magnificent Kenroku-en, one of the three great gardens of Japan. It is also an area with a rich cultural and artistic heritage, including the porcelain craft of Kutani. Produced mainly in the southern part of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kutani ware is a style of colorful glazed porcelain with a history that dates back to the middle of the 17th century. Well, according to a post on Japanese information compilation site Naver Matome, it seems that the traditional craft is now receiving some renewed attention, as it adapts to more modern tastes with bright, pop designs. And once we saw some of the pictures, we could understand why people were taking notice — the works are positively stunning, not to mention outrageously cute!

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Say hello to Chunyun, the chaotic mass migration that happens every Chinese New Year

Say hello to Chunyun, the chaotic mass migration that happens every Chinese New Year

Remember that old schoolyard fable warning that, if all the people in China – for some reason simultaneously going mad and deciding to destroy both themselves and the entire planet – were to jump up and down at the exact same moment, the earth would be thrown out of its orbit? Well, apologies to anyone who has been monitoring the situation since they heard this doomsday prophecy, but it’s total nonsense. If you were to map the movement of the population of China over the coming week, however, you would indeed see something that really is quite spectacular.

Known as Chunyun, the weeks immediately before and after Chinese New year (which falls on January 31 this year) are recognised as the period during which the world’s largest human migration occurs. An estimated 3.6 billion trips will be made across various parts of China in the coming weeks as families return to their homes to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. And that means a lot of traffic jams, very cramped train journeys, and a people sleeping wherever they may lay their head.

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Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Among the many kinds of tasty sweets indigenous to Japan, you’ll find the monaka. Monaka consist of two wafers, traditionally sandwiched around a dollop of the sweet red bean paste called anko.

Different confectioners put their own unique spin on monaka, such as infusing it with citrus or mixing ice cream in the filling. But while we’ve eaten plenty of variations on the tasty treat, our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato recently brought back one we’d never heard of before: suicide monaka.

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10 simple phrases for breaking your Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend’s heart

10 simple phrases for breaking your Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend’s heart

It’s pretty well known that lovers in Japan aren’t quite as direct in expressing their affection as their Western counterparts. It’s not that the feeling isn’t there, though, just that putting them into words isn’t, culturally speaking, seen as being as necessary or meaningful as in some other countries.

Likewise, Japanese couples’ communication isn’t characterized by two people lobbing insults at each other, either. A put-down is a put-down in any language, and no one appreciates being told something hurtful, as illustrated by a survey of the most hurtful things Japanese men and women have been told by their romantic partners.

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Attack on Titan social game’s promo streamed

Attack on Titan social game’s promo streamed

Japanese mobile game publisher Mobage began streaming a promotional video for its Shingeki no Kyojin ~Jiyū e no Hōkō~ (Attack on Titan: Howl Toward Freedom) game for smart phones on Wednesday. The promotional video tells players that they must fight against enemies outside of the Wall Rose using forbidden weapons.

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【Thursday Throwback】When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!

【Thursday Throwback】When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!

There’s a new breed of sushi in town, and it’s called nekozushi (cat sushi). These unusual creatures live in an alternate reality, travelling between worlds on colourful sushi train plates, stopping to stare at passers-by for just long enough to get them thinking, “Did I really see that?” before zooming off again. Rare sightings have been reported over the years but no-one’s ever been able to really prove the existence of a sushi cat. Until now.

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Zuuushiiihokkiii is coming! And his copyrights are as loose as his retinae

Zuuushiiihokkiii is coming! And his copyrights are as loose as his retinae

Last November, residents of Hokuto City in Hokkaido elected Zuuushiiihokkiii, the somewhat malformed anthropomorphic piece of surf clam sushi. His limited motor skills and cries of “Hokihokihokihokiii!” seemed to have plucked a particular heart-string among the locals.

Even beyond the northern city, this ball of rice and clam is shaping up to be Japan’s breakout yurukyara (regional mascot) of 2014. While development on the official Zuuushiiihokkiii costume is still underway, some exciting news has emerged from the new mascot’s PR team.

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