Teacher attempts to show hamsters’ innate abilities, hamster has other plans

When most of us think of hamsters, we imagine cute little balls of fluff running in their exercise wheels, stuffing their cheeks full of food, or burrowing in people’s sleeves. Yes, they’re adorable and make great pets, but hamsters can also be found in the wild, and are burrowers by nature.

One teacher tried to show her class how flexible hamsters can be, telling them that if a hamster goes the wrong way into a tunnel, it can easily twist its little body around and come back out. But this particular hamster just wasn’t having it that day…

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Cats sitting politely outside Japanese convenience stores restore our faith in felines

It was around this time last year that a 7-Eleven in east Japan posted a desperate plea for help in stopping the ravages of a feline shoplifter. This came on the heels of an earlier article in which we covered a number of concessions granted by convenience store workers to similar furry intruders, no doubt having been coerced under threat of scratches.

These incidents might well lead one to believe that Japan is some kind of modern-day Wild West where cats run unchecked without regard for the law or common decency. While cats certainly do roam freely in some parts of the country, a recent batch of Twitter photos showing cats waiting politely outside convenience stores suggest that manners are alive and well among our feline friends. Or are they? Might these cats be harboring ulterior motives?

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Who is this mysterious sumo wrestler and why has he “sunk” Japan?!

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover–but anyone who says they never do is probably a liar (or at least prone to exaggeration). After all, if you’re not a fan of fantasy, a Dragonlance cover illustration should be all you need to know to stay away. By the same turn, if you’re looking for some Japanese fiction, grabbing a book with a sumo wrestler on the cover seems like a safe option.

Though that doesn’t make the cover any less absurd if it’s actually a science fiction novel, though, as these Japanese Twitter users discovered!

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Experience Japanese culture in a new way, inside a glass teahouse at an ancient temple

Imagine yourself nearly floating in the sky, surrounded by green trees and fluffy clouds. Now you sip some green tea and feel completely at peace. Does this sound too good to be true? It isn’t, because now you can actually experience this in Kyoto.

At the Blue Dragon Hall of Shorenin Temple, artist Tokujin Yoshioka has designed a clear glass teahouse sitting amongst the trees of Higashiyama, one of the city’s famous mountains.

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Kindergarten class plays Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 better than most adults ever could

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 5 in D minor at a time of great tension in Soviet Russia. The looming threat of World War II was nothing compared to the Great Purge being conducted by Joseph Stalin in which 1,000 people were executed each day. Shostakovich too felt he was in the crosshairs for his previous “subversive” works.

And so it was something of a musical miracle that his Symphony No. 5 was unanimously well received by both the government and survivors of their brutality alike. Still today conductors and their orchestras struggle to properly capture all of the emotions such as irony, sympathy, and pride that Shostakovich may or may not have intentionally layered in this rich piece.

Taking a crack at it here are the kids of Isesaki Asuka Primary School’s kindergarten class.  To see whether they succeed is up to you, but I think we can all agree that they’re not just good for a kindergarten class – they’re just good.

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Swiss otaku is as crazy as he can be, and his Twitter followers can’t get enough

There are “impressive” people in every fandom, but Japanese anime, manga and game fans certainly know how to take things over the top. There are more volumes to read, more episodes to watch, and more merchandise to buy than for just about any other fandom out there. You never knew you wanted a mint case cover adorned with your favorite character until you saw it there in the store.

If you have the money to spend, Japan will have made something for you to buy. A self-proclaimed Swiss otaku seems to have some extra cash, and he often uses it to take his fandom beyond anything you could possibly imagine. His recent set of tweets are causing a ruckus on the Internet and most people can only muster one simple question: Why???

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Model Miranda Kerr is hungry for tonkatsu in her new Japanese commercial, but what’s she selling?

While a certain amount of God-given natural good looks are generally necessary to get your foot in the door of professional modeling, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into making a successful career out of it. Having your whole livelihood tied up in being physically attractive means sticking to beauty, diet, and fitness regimens, and we’re sure Miranda Kerr’s are stricter than most of ours.

Of course, Kerr is only human, and apparently she too feels the pull of a filling, fortifying meal of tonkatsu pork cutlet, as shown in this new Japanese commercial starring the Australian fashion icon. In a twist ending, though, the item Kerr’s pitching isn’t clothing, cosmetics, or even the delicious Japanese food she’s seen chowing down on.

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Who needs a real Apple Watch when you can wear this cuter one made of felt?

Watches are, oddly enough, a timeless accessory. Kids wear them, adults do too, and grandparents hand them down as family heirlooms. This has been going on for centuries, and even nowadays people go nuts for cute watches, fancy watches, and now, smart watches.

With the recent announcement of the Apple Watch people are preparing their wrists and their wallets for the new meeting of fashion and technology. Even tech whiz kids, dare we say “Smart Kids,” want in on the action, but some people, like artist Hiné Mizushima, don’t really see the need for kids to have real Apple Watches, so she created a clever and adorable felt alternative.

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Get a haircut, a manicure and an eyeful at this saucy salon in Vietnam

You generally don’t have to look too hard to find a business capitalizing on the appeal of scantily clad women, but recently there seem to be more and more places using half-naked dudes too. Hooray for gender equality, I guess?

Earlier this week, we told you about the upcoming Macho Cafe in Tokyo and the handsome dentist who cradles patients in his lap while doing a cleaning, but neither of those places have anything on this hair and nail salon in Da Nang, where your beauty comes with a side of beefcake.

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Drinkers’ paradise found at Tokyo restaurant-100 types of sake, all-you-can-drink, no time limit

A lot of bars and restaurants in Japan offer special deals where you can drink as much as you like for a certain amount of time, usually about two hours. The downside is these packages often don’t give you access to the full beverage menu. While beer and basic cocktails are generally included, if you’re in the mood for sake, you’re generally restricted to whatever the house brand is.

So we were excited when we heard about a new watering hole opening up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood that lets you pick from 100 different types of sake for its all-you-can-drink plan, and even better, there’s no time limit.

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Japanese female electro-rap duo Charisma.com: Office workers by day, musicians by night 【Videos】

If you’re looking for a new musical act to blow your mind, look no further than Charisma.com (カリスマドットコム).

The electro-rap duo (yes, you read that right!) is composed of two Japanese women–MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi–who will without a doubt knock your socks off with their genre-defying sound. Once you’ve listened to some of their work, you can say goodbye to peace and quiet because you’ll never get Gonchi’s catchy melodies or Itsuka’s fast and furious rapping out of your head. Impressively, over the past two years, their music has been steadily attracting attention from all corners of the world. Would you say that they’re on the path to complete global domination?

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Survey asks Japanese people where they’d most like to “live” after death

Whenever people ask me what I want to happen after I die, I always tell them I want a Super Mario-themed funeral where, at the end of the ceremony, the Mario death music plays and my casket is launched a few feet up in the air, then allowed fall down into the earth. I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool way for friends and family to send me off, but the actual location of the funeral – or even really what happened to my body afterwards – has never been all that important to me.

Westerners have surprisingly little ritual when it comes to death. There’s usually a wake or a funeral, and then, if you’re lucky, every couple of years Solid Snake comes by to stand in front of your grave, look grim and deliver a two-hour monologue about the horrors of war. The Japanese, on the other hand, make a point to visit and pay respects to the dead every year through somewhat ritualized ohakamairi, so the location of your grave is an important thing to consider.

So important, apparently, that specialty online grave retailer Ohakamagokorokakaku (“ohakamago”) is considering offering a service to move the graves of loved ones, and recently conducted a survey among Japanese people asking: “Where would you most like to ‘live’ after death?”

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Abashiri: Home of Japan’s Prison Museum, Prison Cafeteria, and Prison Beer

Hokkaido, Japan’s rural, northernmost island, has a wealth of tourist attractions. But while most travelers spend their time enjoying the natural beauty of the region’s mountains, forests, and oceans, visitors to the city of Abashiri often spend their time in a very different way.

That’s because in contrast to the sense of freedom Hokkaido’s wide-open vistas are so evocative of, Abashiri is home to the Abashiri Prison Museum. Aside from exhibits on the history of incarceration, the museum also has a cafeteria, where diners can eat a recreation of modern Japanese prison food, and even knock back a bottle of Abashiri Prison Stout beer.

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Food over Flowers! Magnolia Bakery’s cherry blossom cupcakes have arrived in time for spring!

Cherry blossom time in Japan is all about appreciating nature and the transitive beauty of life, right? Wrong. It’s totally an excuse to stuff your face with delicious food during “cherry blossom viewing parties”, aka Japan’s über-picnics! Onigiri are usually a popular food to consume under those canopies of candy-pink petals, but cherry blossom-flavoured food and drinks are also unsurprisingly popular around this time of year.

Luckily, mega-popular chain Magnolia Bakery has a store in Japan, and they’re rolling out special cherry blossom cupcakes for spring!

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Fans break confectioner’s website in scramble for “kiss-flavored” candies from dating sim hotties

Last Saturday was White Day, the annual Japanese celebration in which men give gifts to women who gave them gifts for Valentine’s Day. As such, confectioners rolled out a huge selection of special offerings for the occasion, and while chocolate is a perennial favorite, shoppers could also choose from strawberry, green tea, cherry blossom, and a variety of other gourmet options.

Among female dating simulator fans, though, the big hit flavor this year seems to have been “kisses.” No, not Hershey’s Kisses, but candy that actually claims to tastes like locking lips with one of six virtual boyfriends. Even stranger, gamers were clamoring to buy them even though no one really knows what “kiss-flavored” means, except that apparently the anime-style heartthrobs’ kisses don’t taste like shellfish.

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Attack on Kansai: manga creators post free comic translated into the Osaka area dialect

There seems to be no stopping the enormously popular manga-turned-anime series (and soon-to-be live-action film) Attack on Titan with fans all over the world who can’t get enough of its terrifying world. Attack on Titan has seen crossovers and fan-made tributes before, but last week the manga creators themselves surprised fans when they published a special online comic of the first issue completely translated into the Kansai dialect spoken in western Japan around Osaka.

Attack on Titan announced the free comic by posting a picture of the redesigned cover showing well-known symbols of the Osaka area, such as the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, takoyaki and of course, purple-haired obachan.

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New Dragon Ball Z shirts and tote let you wear your love of Frieza on your arm/whole upper body

In the world of anime, it seems like Dragon Ball Z’s Frieza is the man/alien of the hour. Not only does he have a new cola endorsement deal that also gives him a chance to show off his slick dance moves, he’s also set to play a big role in next month’s brand-new Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of F theatrical feature.

Now, if you’re one of the many fans with a fondness for this particular Dragon Ball Z antagonist, you’ve got the chance to wear your love of Frieza on your sleeve, or really your whole upper body, with two new T-shirts and a tote bag that pay tribute to the galactic emperor.

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Someone in Japan hits on killer formula for textbook covers: stick a cute anime girl on there!

Do you remember the characters in your school textbooks? Perhaps you have fond memories of doodling in the margins and augmenting the illustrations.

Well, just when we were thinking that study guides in Japan in recent years were all looking a little bit same-y, some clever marketing person (or, more likely, about 100 clever marketing people) has come up with a one-step technique for designing these educational guides. It doesn’t matter whether it’s history, philosophy, social studies or English – just put a smart, cute anime girl on the front cover!

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure creator shares manga-making secrets, Hemingway influences in new book

You won’t find many manga authors who’ve achieved more success than Hirohiko Araki. In 1986, Araki put the finishing touches on the first chapter of supernatural brawling saga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and the series has just kept going from there.

With over 100 collected volumes of Jojo already published, and who knows how many more until its seemingly tireless creator runs out of steam, Araki is undoubtedly a font of knowledge about crafting a successful comic series. As a matter of fact, you could say he wrote the book on how to make a successful manga, and you’d be right both figuratively and literally, thanks to the soon to be published Hirohiko Araki’s Manga Techniques.

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Nintendo promises brand new console, announces deal to release mobile games

Video game giant Nintendo has announced that it is partnering with Japanese mobile firm DeNA to produce a series of mobile applications featuring key Nintendo properties. Furthermore, Nintendo has gone on record to state that it has a new home console in the works and that mobile connectivity will play a key role in its future.

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