Are virtual reality schools the future of education in Japan?

Don’t like going to high school? Instead of physically going to campus and dealing with other whiney teens and your annoying teachers, you could send an avatar to go to a virtual school for you! Starting next spring, a private correspondence school in Chiba Prefecture called Meisei Cyber High School is opening its virtual doors!

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Mount Ontake: some hikers “died taking photos of the erupting volcano”, pathologist says

More details have emerged about the final moments of those who died during the sudden and tragic eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last month.

This week, pathologists confirmed that of the 56 people who died when the volcano erupted on September 27, 20 were killed instantly when they were struck in the head or neck by falling rocks and debris. One doctor involved in the case told the Mainichi Shinbun, however, that around half of the victims they saw had been taking photos of the eruption when they died.

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“2.5D Mask” lets you spend the day as an anime character, frighten pets and small children

On a budget? Stuck for a Halloween outfit? How about turning yourself into a “2.5D” hero and scaring the life out of everyone you encounter with this series of free printable masks?

Join us after the jump to find out how you can become a beautiful, yet kind of creepy, manga character without spending a penny.

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Three’s a crowd as multiple waterspouts form above Chinese lake in awesome video

As the largest lake in a very large country, you’d probably imagine that China’s Qinghai Lake is pretty big, and with a surface area of over 4,100 square kilometers (1,583 square miles), you’d be right. But when numbers start getting that huge, it can be hard to really grasp their scale.

So just how big is Qinghai Lake? Well, you could say it’s twice the size of the 23 wards of central Tokyo. Or, to put it in more dramatic terms, it’s big enough to easily hold three gigantic water spouts at the same time.

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She just popped up from your toilet paper to say hello!

Usually when you walk into a public restroom and see something out of the ordinary, it’s almost always the bad sort of surprise. Dirty floors, toilet seats with an extra bit of yellow, and much, much worse are just a part of the risk you take when entering an area complete strangers use to do their business. But one Twitter user got a different sort of surprise when she walked in to a bathroom stall and saw a face staring back.

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Anger online as tweeting tech guru Takeshi Natsuno slams Sendai for rejecting IC card

You may have heard the name Takeshi Natsuno before. A Keio University professor, former Senior Vice President at NTT Docomo, Sega Sammy big-wig, and creator of i-mode, he is by all accounts an intelligent, not to mention extremely tech-savvy, dude. So you can imagine the surprise the good residents of the city of Sendai felt when he took to his Twitter account earlier this week to publicly disparage their home town as being “too lame for words”.

Just what prompted this sudden outpouring of ire? Well, it seems Mr Natsuno felt rather short-changed when he attempted to use his prepaid Suica IC Card to ride the Sendai subway. Suica is a Tokyo-based IC card system. Sendai is not in Tokyo. You can probably see where this is going.

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Adorable character hot pots are this fall’s kawaii-est foods

No country does cute food better than Japan, and the latest trend in adorable edibles is fall hot pots stuffed with cute characters that look way too good to eat!

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East meets West in the Pacific-centered version of the world map

Depending on what part of the world you live in, one of these maps will look right at home while the other might seem kind of off. However, given the overall dominance of the Euro-centric map, the other one is more likely to give an uncomfortable feeling to a greater number of people.

While both are currently in use in different countries, is it possible that one map is more valid than another?

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At least a few of these packaging “fails” from around the world had to be intentional

It turns out that when you put a bunch of mostly teens and 20-somethings in a largely unsupervised warehouse setting, then pay them minimum wage or so to engage in mindless physical labor like stuffing things into boxes and cans, you’re going to get the odd bit of mischief. And it turns out this may be a global phenomenon!

Case in point, these packaging “fails” found around the world. Sure, at first glance, some of them seem like bad translations or factory mix-ups, but you can tell at least a few are obviously the result of bored factory workers or store stockers:

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U.K. man sentenced for prohibited images of ‘manga’ children

The Teesside Crown Court of Middlesbrough, England convicted 39-year-old Robul Hoque of 10 counts of possessing prohibited images of children. However, the children depicted in the images were all drawings. Hoque is believed to be the first man in the country brought to court solely over manga and anime images. The court sentenced him to nine months in prison, but the sentence will be suspended if Hoque maintains good behavior and follows the court’s requirements for two years.

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Domino’s Japan offering discounts to customers who pound the wall, show mementos from old flames

While it may not have the hippest image in the U.S., Domino’s Pizza has built a fanbase for itself in Japan with a string of unique promotions and weird humor. So we’re sure plenty of people were sad to hear that on October 26, Domino’s Japan is closing down its online store where you can order pizzas for delivery or pickup.

Luckily, this has turned out to be just another one of the chain’s quirky jokes, since it’s also opening a new online store on October 27. In other words, it’s just a website redesign, but in addition to serving up plenty of tongue-in-cheek drama, Domino’s is also offering discounts for customers who play along with the joke and say goodbye in a variety of ways.

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Snoopy to your cleaning rescue — and he even comes with his own doghouse power source!

Now, if Hello Kitty is a candidate for the most famous cat (or cat character … if that’s more accurate) in the world, then we have to say Snoopy certainly has as good a claim as any character out there to the title of world’s most famous dog. And as befits an international canine celebrity, we all know that the lovable beagle has been involved in his share of collaborations. But this Snoopy product, which one of the reporters at our sister site Pouch found, is so unique and utterly adorable that we just couldn’t bear not sharing it with you! It’s the limited edition AQUA Snoopy Robot Cleaner and  Snoopy Doghouse Set, and it’s even smart enough to go back to the doghouse once it finishes cleaning. How cool is that?

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Learn Japanese from YouTube: Amp up your listening skills with this four-step guide

It used to be that if you were studying a foreign language in your own country, the only listening practice that was easily available to you was hearing your teacher or classmates speak, or listening to the CD that came with your textbook. The first Japanese textbook I ever bought actually came with a cassette tape, which was particularly irritating as it was 2006 and I didn’t even own a Walkman any more.

Then someone invented a website that allowed users to upload short videos for all the world to see. Fast-forward nine years and YouTube is one of the biggest sites on the planet, making it a veritable treasure trove of free online spoken content.

So whether you’re after language lessons, YouTubers who vlog in Japanese, or just want to try watching your cat videos in a foreign language, online videos could be your new secret weapon. The trick is just knowing where to look.

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Three Chinese men arrested in Japan for buying too many diapers

In recent years a scourge has gripped Japan, and it is people buying too many disposable diapers at once – the Merries brand in particular. For this heinous behavior, three Chinese men were arrested by the Hyogo Prefectural Police on 15 October and are expected to be deported back to their country.

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Sailor Moon candy, dolls, and music boxes! More new merch than you can shake a Moon Stick at

We recently took a look at a new batch of Sailor Moon aprons, but if you’ve been following the celestial-themed magical girls for very long, you knew that wasn’t going to be the end of cool and quirky tie-ins for the franchise. The product planning team of merchandiser Bandai apparently never sleeps, and those aprons were just the opening salvo of another round of Sailor Moon goodies, including one that’ll help fans with the first part of their quest to eat, sleep, and breathe the hit anime.

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Why are some Japanese preschools banning awesome, adorable character bento?

Considering how much Japan loves food and cute things, it’s no surprise that the country is in the middle of a chara-ben boom. Chara-ben, bento boxed lunches with their contents arranged like popular characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon, are a hit with adults and children alike, as parents seem to be having as much fun making them as their kids are eating them.

But not everyone loves this trend of culinary creativity, though, as some preschools and day care centers have started banning chara-ben.

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Watch time go by with 70,000 beautiful Japanese women, that’s 48 girls a minute every day!

Whether you are sitting in class or at work, watching as the time ticks by until the end of the day, or you are waiting for the three minutes to be up on your cup noodle, we are always looking at the clock. Time is money! Normally, it’s just a set of numbers that conveys information to us, but a clever company has turned checking the time into an ingenious marketing strategy. What are they selling? Beautiful women, of course!

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Man revives woman with AED, branded a “pervert” for removing her clothes to apply electrode pads

A man in Japan says he was questioned by police and branded a “pervert” after providing emergency medical assistance to a stranger. The man was attending to a woman who had been involved in a traffic accident when he believes someone who saw him cutting through the woman’s clothes to apply a defibrillator to her bare chest called the police and reported him for behaving inappropriately.

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) analyses the rhythm of the heart and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock to help it return to normal. AEDs are provided in public places and are designed to be operated by members of the public, even those with no medical background. The man is now calling for better understanding of the correct use of AEDs.

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Super Smash Bros. announcer tries his very best at the Pokemon theme song

Nintendo fans may not be familiar with the name Xander Mobus, but they probably know his voice when they hear it. He’s the announcer for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and WiiU, as well as a few other voice roles, but his talents apparently don’t just end there. A fan asked him to please sing the Pokémon theme song, and he obliged.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping: ‘No more weird architecture’

Chinese president Xi Jinping is fed up with his country’s fascination with what he calls “weird architecture,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Speaking at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Xi’s two-hour speech took shot at Chinese architects and artists who have designed avant-garde style buildings.

Instead, he said that art should “be like sunshine from the blue sky and the breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste, and clean up undesirable work styles.”

In other words, the speech was a call for more traditional Chinese art that is patriotic, socialist, and nationalistic at its core.

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