Awash in a sea of sound: The ambient electronic music of Sapporo artist Unii【J-Tunes】

We’ve covered a lot of ground with J-Tunes, from an underground grindcore band to mainstream melodic dubstep, and today is no different! We recently got a chance to check out a show featuring the Sapporo-based electronic artist Unii and were so impressed that we had to share her music with our readers!

Check out our interview with Unii, where we talk about her music, world-wide touring, and the state of experimental electronic in Japan and abroad. We’re sure you’ll enjoy her sweeping, ambient soundscapes and ethereal singing.

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Now, that’s spatial visualization! Indian barber cuts own hair with greatest of ease

I used to cut my own hair before becoming a big-shot RocketNews24 writer who can now go to the local value cuts for a 1,000 yen (US$9) cut every few months. I’m glad those days are behind me, though, because it was a royal pain.

Generally, I’m not a total klutz when it comes to working a pair of scissors. However, every time I got in front of the mirror and raised the blades to my hair, my coordination would suddenly devolve to that of a one-year-old who forgot which way up was.

I’m sure more experience working in a mirror would fix that, and with enough time I might even get as good as this guy from Kerala who is able to give himself a complete lightning-fast haircut. It’s all here in the video Kerala Got Talent; Indian Barbar Cutting His Own Hair recently posted on YouTube.

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Kit Kat’s papercraft train set is so cool we almost don’t need the chocolate it comes with

Living in Japan, we’ve been kind of spoiled by all the special Kit Kat flavors the country gets. We love a sweet snack as much as anyone, but when almost every region of Japan has its own version of the chocolate wafers, it takes something a little more unusual than matcha green tea Kit Kats to really grab our attention (not that those don’t taste delicious, of course).

So Nestlé Japan’s latest plan is to give us not just something to munch on, but a cool papercraft kit too, with this special Kit Kat bundle that also lets you build a model train.

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Bros? Kart? Party? Japanese gamers pick their top 5 Mario series

When asked to think of addicting video games, a good chunk of people around the world are likely to recall Nintendo’s iconic Mario series, which is the best-selling game franchise of all time. But the task becomes much more difficult when faced with the dilemma of choosing the best Mario game series within the incredibly varied franchise. How could anyone possibly choose a favorite from the dozens of Mario games and spin-offs spanning all the way back to the NES?

Fortunately, Japanese portal site MyNavi Woman put out a survey in August to ask its readers to choose their favorite Mario games, so you don’t have to make the difficult decision yourself. But you can make a prediction–which five series do you think topped the list?

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They’re not real?! Exploring the detailed, colorful world of Takuto Shibuya’s mushroom bonsai

Have you ever come across a beautifully colored, picture book-worthy mushroom while walking in the woods or the park? I still remember the flashy fungi I happened upon when I was in seventh grade; I was near a mountain biking course in Rhode Island and amid the grass was a cute yellow mushroom with red dots, much like a Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. I considered picking it but I was pretty sure my fingers would start to rot off upon contact, and it would have shriveled up soon enough anyway. Oh, I wondered, will the days of ornamental mushrooms never come?

Enter Takuto Shibuya, whose life-long love of toadstools compelled him to find a way to marvel at their variegated beauty at home. His book Kinoko (Mushroom) Bonsai, released back in June, includes photos of his work as well as instructions on how to make your own. But wait—this type of bonsai isn’t about replanting your find in a pot. Because mushrooms are difficult to take care of, Shibuya took a hint from the Japanese traditions of bonsai and figurines and decided to preserve their alluring forms by recreating them in clay. Read on to take a closer look at his creations as well as his process!

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New exhibition at Tokyo National Art Museum comes with excavated chocolate souvenirs

There’s so much to love about Japanese customer service. Whether you’re shopping at an expensive department store or perusing the shelves at the local supermarket, you can rest assured that everything has been thought through and tailored to meet your needs and desires.

The same attention to detail will be there for visitors to the upcoming National Treasures of Japan exhibition at the Tokyo National Art Museum in Ueno this month. Clearly aware that visitors will want to dig up a national treasure of their own after viewing the exhibition, the gift shop has some unusual souvenirs for customers to take home – including chocolate artefacts.

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‘Frozen’ gets the 8-bit treatment, and it’s every bit as fun as we imagined!【Video】

The pixellation magicians at CineFlix’s ‘8 Bit Cinema’ have given Frozen a retro video game makeover, retelling Disney’s phenomenally successful fairytale in three minutes of old-school graphics fun, complete with a glorious 8-bit soundtrack.

Yep, the video is cool, but it’s the awesome rendering of the movie’s songs as chiptunes that really impressed us the most.

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Kimono-clad princesses offer their sincere apologies for roadside construction in Kyoto

The fact that the word kawaii has now been accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary says a lot about Japan’s obsession with all things cute. If there’s a manhole cover or a health and safety pamphlet that needs brightening up somehow, you can pretty much guarantee that someone will design a cutesy character or scene to adorn it. That’s just how Japan rolls.

Never, though, have we come across barricades made to look like kneeling kimono-clad princesses before.

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Zzz…zzz…pika…pika – The Pikachu bed is here!

Back in the summer, we spent a day chasing Pikachus around Yokohama as part of the amazing, multi-day Pokémon event held in the bayside city. The smile it put on our faces still hasn’t completely faded, but that year’s supply of cuteness came with a price. While we were there we got a hug from one of the Pocket Monster ambassadors, and we now know only too well just how fluffy a Pikachu is.

It’s thrown our whole baseline off for what constitutes cozy and comfy. Compared to a soft Pikachu coat, our blankets now feel like burlap, and it’s been keeping us up at night. Thankfully, there might be a solution, in the form of this awesome Pikachu bed.

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Korean artist opens a new door to the way we look at Starbucks’ paper cups

To some hardcore coffee fanatics, Starbucks may not serve the best coffee in the world, but they are definitely the most internationally popular coffee brand known to us. Starbucks fans around the world are not just in love with the coffeehouse chain’s signature blends, many of them like the brand as a whole entity, and some artistic individuals have even been inspired to create handicrafts and pieces of art with the brand’s packaging items.

Think you know the brand’s iconic logo well enough? Korean artist Soo Min Kim shows us faces of the infamous siren that we’ve never seen before in his creative renditions of Starbucks cup art!

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New gachapon figures resurrect centuries-old toys for your amusement

No matter how the times change, kids still love toys. Whether it was ancient Egypt or the mid-Edo period, toys have always been a big part of the way children passed their time in play. Even with all our fancy technology today, from 3DSs to Oculus Rifts, kids still make time to run around with their favorite dolls or plastic guns. Of course, Japan is full of figures of all varieties and price tags, but gachapon occupy a position of near invincibility–you can put pretty much anything in those little plastic balls and they’re practically guaranteed to sell.

And, starting soon, you’ll also be able to buy remakes of traditional Japanese toys from the early 18th century. You’ll finally get the opportunity to play like a kid from the Edo Period while waiting for your 3DS to recharge!

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Creepy “Tranquility Chair” may or may not feed on human emotions

Ever felt like you needed a little company or affection but didn’t want to go through the hassle of actually interacting with another human being face-to-face?

You might go for a new pet – a dog, cat, or, in even the creepiest of circumstances, an exotic reptile – or you might head to an online chatroom, some kind of hotline, a mobile app, or maybe even one of those newfangled virtual schoolgirl ogling simulators.

Or, if you’re a misunderstood serial killer, maybe you’d instead go for one of these incredibly disconcerting hugging clown chairs.

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Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum is crazy strong, can easily carry creatures twice his body weight

No one really minds when the creators of movies and TV disregard the laws of the universe a little in the name of producing quality entertainment. Would the space battles in Star Wars have been anywhere near as fun if they had all taken place in complete silence due to the lack of air required to carry sound waves? Not a chance. Does anyone really mind that a lit cigarette doesn’t actually produce enough heat to ignite a puddle of gasoline if it results in those epic, “casually walks away from burning building” shots in action movies? Not in the slightest.

But sometimes such use of artistic licence can slip by entirely unnoticed, and it takes someone to point out a few key facts before the reality of the situation hits home. Case in point: Ash from hit anime series Pokémon seemingly possesses super-human strength, and is able to carry pokémon that weigh vastly more than he does without even breaking a sweat.

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【Post-holiday Kickstart】Cats surround grilled fish in ambush attack

Hi everyone! Did you enjoy Sports Day in Japan?

In case you’re having a hard time getting back into the swing of things after a three-day weekend, we thought we’d share this amusing photo of one manga artist’s four cats stalking a helpless victim–a freshly grilled fish. Note to self: never grill fish when there are hungry cats around!

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Korean activists upset over plans to sew the anuses of river rats shut, make them eat each other

Recently if you were to type the Korean name for a copyu (aka “river rat” or “nutria”) into a search engine it would also likely suggest the Korean word for anus. That’s because of a controversial measure proposed to control the population of these pests which net users are calling “wacky” at best and “needlessly brutal” in the worst terms.

According to a report from South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo, the new measure begins with sewing the anus of a copyu shut so that it can’t defecate and it really only gets worse from there.

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Float like Kiki, sting like a bee: Adorable photos from the Mino City Witch Contest

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour London, or as everyone I know stubbornly insists on calling it, “Harry Potter Land”, has one attraction that pulls in even the most cynical visitor. Apart from the butterbeer tent, the place with the longest queue in the studios is the green screen zone, where you can don quidditch robes and take a broomstick ride around Hogwarts and beyond. As I discovered when I visited there last month, after pratting around on a broom for five minutes you are led into the shop selling commemorative DVDs (or USB sticks, or whatever) of your flight. Thankfully, I resisted the urge to part with any more of my hard-earned pounds, and the footage of me waving to legions of adoring quidditch fans will (hopefully) be lost forever.

You might be forgiven, in a world of technological wizardry, for thinking that these shots of broomstick-riding witches had been made in a similar way – with a green screen or even some snazzy Photoshopping. But no. In the photos, taken at a local event in Gifu, Japan, last month, there aren’t even any wires being used! Just happy jumping witches and some clever camera angles.

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Is this 1,300-year-old dish found in Nara actually cursed?

Though the current capital of Japan is Tokyo, many would argue that its traditional capital, Kyoto, is the real heart of Japan–at least culturally speaking. That said, if you you’re looking for the original capital of Japan, you’d probably be better heading south from Kyoto to Nara Prefecture. But while you should definitely stop and see Heijo-kyo in Nara City, you’ll have to keep heading south to Asuka Village to find the “real” original capital of Japan: Asuka-kyo. Of course, in the 1,300 years since the end of the Asuka Period, the capital has essentially been lost to time–all that’s left are stony remnants like those pictured above.

But that’s not the only patch of old ruins to be found in Asuka area–there are so many, they can actually get in the way of building a house! But with the news of the discovery of a piece of “cursed” earthenware, we have to wonder if maybe it’s just time for everyone to pack up and head for a slightly less historically significant area!

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Rare Catbus-esque worm takes its name after Ghibli’s Totoro

Researchers from Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Vietnam-Russia Tropical Centresurprised the scientific community last year when they published their findings regarding a rare velvet worm found only in Vietnam’s Cát Tiên National Park. They named him Eoperipatus totoro.

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South Korean design company turns subway maps into beautiful artwork you can hang on your wall

The first time I went to Tokyo alone, I got lost within the first five minutes of arriving at Shinjuku Station, unable to comprehend why there were so many transfers to different lines going in different directions. Without mobile data on my phone, I was basically one of the ‘internet-less lost gaijin’ crippled by the lack of Google Maps who ended up befriending the station master at every transfer station because, without them, I would probably have had to spend the night hanging out with the buskers on the streets.

The maps in Japanese subway stations are not only confusing, they also look like multi-colored spaghetti or weird roller coasters, and I can clearly recall thinking how nice it would be to have a better-looking representation of the city’s train lines. Thankfully, it looks like South Korean design company Zero per Zero has fulfilled my wish with their subway map designs, which are becoming a hot topic on Reddit.

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Obama appears in small Kyushu town, possibly seeking treatment for aggressive skin disease

You really never know who you are going to meet when traveling. That’s one of the things that makes it so enjoyable. But imagine our surprise when we ran into the leader of the free world in an isolated hot spring town in Kyushu! It might have something to do with the name of the place though…

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