Ghibli background artist Naohisa Inoue’s painting technique is out of this world

Studio Ghibli’s films are known for being whimsical and beautiful to look at. But with all the action going on on-screen, it can sometimes be easy to take for granted the beautiful background drawings that provide the setting for each individual story. Today, we’d like to introduce you to one of Studio Ghibli’s most talented background artists, Naohisa Inoue, and take a look at the incredible methods behind his masterpieces.

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Joker weds Harley Quinn! Guess who walked the bride down the aisle

Hey comics fans, check out this plot twist of the year! Apparently, Joker and Harley Quinn tied the knot, and Batman officiated the ceremony for his nemesis. And that’s not quite the biggest twist yet…

Well, the top image has probably given it away, this isn’t a real plot twist in the authentic DC Comics series. This happily-ever-after ending came from a comic fan’s dream wedding; a totally awesome Marvel/DC Comics-themed wedding that is just a delight to look at even if you’re not a fan of Batman or Harley Quinn or I… oops! Nearly let the cat out of the bag! Unveil the big twist after the jump (there are no titans this time, we promise)!

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Chinese artist injects humor into the mundane aspects of everyday life with cute cartoons

Using clean lines and simple concepts inspired by everyday objects, Chinese artist Shanghai Tango has attracted much attention on Tumblr for his adorable minimalistic cartoons. Each one inspires us to see the world around in a different light and a scroll through his blog quickly enlightened us. Shanghai Tango’s art is nothing dramatic, but every piece brought a smile to our faces. Check it out after the jump!

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Youkai Watch set to embrace modernity with new “Youkai Pad” accessory

Okay, so Youkai Watch is a cultural juggernaut in Japan these days, capturing kids’ hearts and enslaving them like so many collectible youkai monsters. But despite the brilliant marketing behind the franchise (how about something exactly like Pokémon… but with… traditional Japanese Youkai?! Genius!) we’ve often thought that the concept of using a common watch as a crux to base the whole thing on seems a bit, hmm, old-fashioned. Who even wears a wristwatch anymore, when we all have the time displayed on our various smartphones and other electronic devices? Well, it seems that the people pulling the strings have now decided to switch their merchandising focus from watches to tablets, taking inspiration from the “Youkai Pad” used by supporting character Whisper to call up information on various Youkai. (No, no, it’s nothing like a Pokédex. Honest.) The brand-new “Youkai Pad” is set for release early next year, and already fans have begun to slaver over it like hungry dogs at a barbecue.

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Cat got your tongue? 10 unusual Japanese phrases that use the word ‘cat’

Cats. Where to begin? They’re cute, cunning, easily offended, happy with or without us and we could never imagine our lives without them. They are rich in mystery and surprise and it’s no wonder the Internet is flooded with pictures and videos of them.

Japan also has a long history of interactions with cats, from believing they can foresee natural disasters to being creatures of vengeance, out to kill humans. Because of this, there are some great Japanese words that use “neko” (猫), the word for “cat,” in combination with another character. Learn some Japanese, and fall even more in love with cats through our list of 10 “catty” Japanese words.

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Mountain monks meditate in ice-cold waterfalls, are completely badass【Video】

In the mountains of Nikko, just a short train trip from the modern, glittering megacity of Tokyo, a handful of monks still practice a millennia-old tradition known as shugendo, a form of meditation via endurance-testing communion with nature.

These are the yamabushi, mountain monks for whom a dip in a thundering, ice-cold waterfall and a sopping-wet stroll up a mountain are just another day’s work.

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Titan mascot turns up for work in Tokyo bookstore, grosses everyone out

Picture the scene: “Hey, Suzuki-san, we’ve got a special job for you! Inside this box is a Mini Titan costume. This week, you’re going to go around the big anime and manga shops in Tokyo promoting the new Attack on Titan exhibition.”

Suzuki-san runs to the box containing the costume and rips it open excitedly. His face falls…for the creature he finds within is the oddest, ugliest Titan the world has ever seen.

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Sharp’s new Japanese-inspired refrigerator is very cool (no pun intended)

Most people spend far more time looking into their refrigerator, hoping they somehow missed a plate of tasty snacks, than looking at their refrigerator. Even when the door is properly closed, we’re more likely to be reading the notes stuck there than admiring the design of the appliance itself.

But that’s just because most of us don’t have as eye-catching of a fridge as this tasteful Japanese beauty.

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Osaka police looking for woman who jumped in front of train, lived, and ran away

Weirdness broke out on the afternoon of 16 November in Osaka. Several witness claimed to have seen a woman jump onto the tracks of Izumiotsu Station just as a train was approaching. However, after the train arrived there was no sign of injury and the woman was last seen running away on the platform.

How the woman got on the tracks, survived the train, or escaped is unclear and an investigation is underway. Internet detectives well-versed in manga, however, are assuming that she was summoned by a big black orb in an apartment somewhere.

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Japanese military to receive funding for powered suits, everyone wonders what took so long

You probably remember last year when the Internet collectively lost control of its bowels over the announcement that the US military was working on TALOS, a powered suit that wasn’t actually anything like what Tony Stark wears but was close enough to get our hearts racing. News outlets were flooded with reports of Iron Man suits and few could ignore the excitement, though it turns out that making a real powered suit is hard–recent reports suggest TALOS won’t be ready until 2018.

While three or four years isn’t exactly soon, it is pretty quick–though if the US military doesn’t get their hustle on, they may end up being second to the powered suit finish line! It looks like the Japanese government is preparing to throw hundreds of millions of yen at a project to develop a powered-assist suit for soldiers in three years–if it is accepted by the Diet for the 2015 budget.

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We examine, sort thousands of grains of rice to test manga-approved cooking method 【Video】

Preparing a delicious bowl of rice is an absolutely essential part of Japanese cuisine, and fortunately for most amateur cooks today’s modern rice cookers have made that task as simple as pressing as button.

While these handy machines can whip up a tasty bowl of rice with little to no effort, we wanted to try out a time-consuming cooking method we learned from the popular food-themed manga Oishinbo. In it, one of the main characters painstakingly examines and sorts each grain of rice to prepare what is described as “a taste you won’t forget in 15 years.” But is all that hard work worth it?

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Vietnamese kids’ TV show will haunt your dreams, possibly get sued by Disney 【Video】

One of the things kids most enjoy about going to Disneyland is getting to meet the characters up close and personal, and they love seeing their favourites on TV too. But something about the characters on this Vietnamese children’s show are a little…off. This bizarre TV show features a lawsuit waiting to happen, canned children’s cheers, and characters that will haunt your dreams.

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Fans on the floor create awesome anime and Disney carpet art in Japan【Photos】

Very few Japanese homes have installed carpeting. Older houses and apartments often have tatami reed mats, and in newer places you’ll usually find tile, wood, or rubberized flooring.

That’s not to say people in Japan can’t appreciate a nice bit of soft fuzziness between their toes, though. Even without permanent carpeting, many people will toss a carpeted mat on the floor to make their living or bedroom extra comfy, especially during the colder part of the year.

Of course, cold weather also means spending more time indoors, with extra time on your hands, and sometimes that patch of carpeting becomes a canvas for some seriously cool fan art.

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Sink or drink? Japan celebrates arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau with special wine-bath

Japan is becoming known worldwide for its natural hot springs and public bath houses. Lately, bathers have more and more soaking options with specialty baths popping up all over. We’ve seen snow-covered baths, tea baths, sake baths and herbal baths.

Every November however, a bathhouse near Tokyo has a unique 10-day wine bath to celebrate the release of France’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine.

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11-year-old now youngest artist to join Dokuritsu Exhibition, teaches us to look on the dark side

One of the words for art in Japanese is bijutsu which contains the kanji character for “beauty” (美). That’s not to say that art is limited to images of beauty alone, however. Sometimes images considered superficially unpleasant can be seen as beautiful works as well. They have the power to push back the darkness of taboos and help us to overcome our own inhibiting fears and prejudices.

Those are pretty heavy concepts for sixth-grader Chifu Onishi, but she seems to have already excelled at them through her celebrated artwork such as Tsuki Ni Asobu (Play on the Moon) which was chosen as a part of the 82nd annual Dokuritsu Exhibition, an annual event that has featured some of Japan’s greatest artists in the past. This acknowledgement also earns the 11-year-old the recognition of being the youngest artist to ever take part.

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Japanese sleep experts say we’ve been using our blankets wrong, help us hate winter a little less

I hate winter. 20-plus years of living in sunny southern California didn’t do anything to help me build up a tolerance for cold weather, and honestly, if I could make like the bears and just gorge myself on salmon for a few weeks and then sleep until spring, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, since hibernation isn’t really an option, I have to rely on a blanket and down comforter to make it through the freezing winter nights. Even still, the cold often leaves me shivering (plus grumbling, cursing, and generally complaining).

As it turns out, though, instead of blaming Old Man Winter for all my discomfort, I’m actually part of the problem, according to Japanese experts who say I’ve been using my comforter and blanket the wrong way.

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Barbie head shoes: the new craze making heads turn in Harajuku

Barbie, the popular fashion doll from America, has been a style icon ever since her creation back in 1959. Now, at the age of 55, the controversial bombshell is hitting the streets of Harajuku – quite literally – this time inside the clear soles of some amazing, if kind of creepy, shoes.

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Special 2015 New Year’s stamp shows adorable sheep completing a 12-year project

With November half over, it’s time to start worrying about the big holiday this season: New Year’s! While Christmas might be the big winter holiday in many countries, for those in Japan, the changing of the calendar is a far bigger event and everyone from school kids overworked salarymen gets a row of days off.

In addition to lazing about and eating way too much food, January first also means nearly mandatory New Year’s postcards in Japan. Next year is the year of the sheep (or goat, depending on who you ask), and the Japanese postal service has revealed their special postcard stamps featuring an adorable four-legged wool giver just for the occasion. However, eagle-eyed patrons with a good memory have noticed something special about the stamps…

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Has this cat’s soul been stolen, or is this just another example of cats being weird? 【Video】

A few weeks ago, we saw a cat that could walk backwards on two legs like it was no big deal. At the time, we jokingly wrote it off as just another quirky cat thing that cats do, because cats.

But now that we’ve seen this video of another feline lying prone, belly-up, staring into the abyss as though it’s seen into the eyes of Cthulhu, we’re starting to wonder if maybe there’s some sort of strange otherworldly madness slowly destroying the minds of Japan’s cats:

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One IKEA item, two prices: Customers in Korea paying as much as 80 percent more than in the U.S.

It’s a weird quirk of the global economy that sometimes the exact same item can sell for very different prices depending on what country you’re in. For example, in the U.S. Levi’s jeans cost about half what they do in Japan.

As a result, I always wait until I’m taking a trip back to L.A. before I buy a pair of Levi’s. Unfortunately, that’s probably not an option for travelers who want to take back furniture from IKEA, which in Korea sometimes costs 80 percent more than it does in the U.S.

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