Haruki Murakami’s solution to the nuclear power debate in Japan: Actually call it “nuclear power”

You may have heard that legendary Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami runs a blog where he answers questions sent in by readers. He’s tackled subjects ranging from the meaning of life to how to become a writer to what animal ability he’d like to have.

In one of his most recent questions, Murakami gives his opinion on a very touchy subject in Japan: nuclear power. Instead of calling out for reform or regulations though, he suggests one very simple change: that Japanese people refer to what they currently call “atomic energy power plants” as “nuclear power plants” instead.

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Chinese man juggled 17 girlfriends, until they all found out at once (or did they?)

It would be every adulterous man’s worst nightmare to wake up to find out that both of his girlfriends not only crossed paths, but realized his infidelity at the exact same time. But that’s nothing compared to what one Chinese man – whom we’ve dubbed “The Master of Cheating” – probably went through after all 17 of his girlfriends got wind of his antics simultaneously.

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Ghibli anime director Isao Takahata receives France’s prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

Anime fans around the world were disappointed in February when The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which all signs point to being the final directorial effort from veteran filmmaker Isao Takahata, failed to capture the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Still, it’s unlikely the low-key Takahata himself got too worked up over the result, given the many accolades he’s received over his almost 50-year career. Besides, this week Takahata had another honor bestowed upon him, as he was given the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government.

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You should visit Osaka’s first rescue cat cafe so I don’t have to

I’m going to confess something that, this being the Internet, I’m almost certain is going to make me deeply unpopular and possibly get me fired from my writing job: I hate cats.

I hate ’em. I hate them so much that, apropos of nothing, the very idea of cats and how much I hate them pops into my mind a few times a day even when there are no cats around to spur my ire. I hate them when the three or four strays in my neighborhood wake me up in the middle of the night with their incessant mewling and fighting. I hate them when they get too close and trigger my allergies. I hate them in a box, I hate them with a fox, I hate them with a mouse, and I certainly hate them in my house.

That said, I think the new rescue cat cafe, SAVE CAT CAFE, which opened in Osaka on April 1, is just the cat’s meow.

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Nurse cosplay: Would-be Hiroshima City Councilwoman’s innovative campaign tactic

With over a million people living in Hiroshima, we imagine at least a few residents are still undecided about who to support in the upcoming city council elections. But with less than a month until they cast their votes, it’s time for them to start narrowing down their selection.

The multitude of political parties in Japan means that sometimes candidates can start to blur together in voters’ minds, though. Standing out from the crowd isn’t a problem for Naomi Kikuura, however. After all, when was the last time you saw a would-be city councilwoman appear in her political ads doing nurse cosplay?

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Russian illustrator wows with bold, simple art in tribute to Studio Ghibli【Pictures】

The characters and scenery of Studio Ghibli movies inspire all kinds of artwork by fans, from impressively detailed posters to super-minimalist art. Russian artist mr von ungarn has been delighting and perplexing Japanese netizens with his adorable, naive-style depictions of our favourite Ghibli characters. Check them out after the jump/

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Snow sakura! Spring and winter collide as frost and cherry blossoms mingle in Japan 【Photos】

As I sit here writing this, it’s been a solid four days since I’ve seen a patch of blue sky. That’s hard enough on someone who grew up in sun-drenched southern California, but what makes it worse is that right now the cherry blossoms are blooming across Japan, and the week-long forecast of cold and precipitation isn’t what many were hoping for as they made plans to head out and admire the short-lived flowers.

But while sakura in the sun are always preferable to sakura in the rain, once the temperature dips down low enough, the flowers become captivating in a whole new way, as shown in these beautiful photos of cherry blossoms in the snow.

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Glassware for dining at the V? Panty-clad cups selling fast 【Photos】

Sometimes a story comes across your desk that is so wacko, you just sit and stare at it for ages trying to wrap your brain around it. That happened to me this morning when I saw that an unusual item at the built-to-order site Dwango.jp was selling fast. That item? Hand-blown panty-wearing drinking glasses at a whopping 8,640 yen (US$72.12) a pop.

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Fear of failure could be behind the extremely low happiness rate among Japanese men

Recently the world got a look at the busy world of salarymen in Japan via a viral video, but there were also some slight reassurances that these company men didn’t necessarily hate their lives. We may have been a bit too optimistic, however, because a study done last year found that less than 30 percent of Japanese man can confidently say, “I am happy.” Well… that’s some statistic.

What’s behind the unhappiness factor among Japanese men? Bad marriages, work problems, convenience store diets? Accomplished Japanese author Reiko Yuyama gives her two yen on the root of the problem.

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Sailor Moon Silver Crystal magnet paper clip chalice helps maintain order in Moon Kingdom, desks

Out of the many magical artifacts Sailor Moon comes across during the course of her adventures, few can match the power of the Illusory Silver Crystal. Maybe that’s why when merchandiser Bandai offers some new anime trinket that includes the gem, it seemingly feels that the replica Silver Crystal also needs to have some sort of innate power.

Previously, fans could use the Illusory Silver Crystal to keep their homes smelling nice. Now, the crystal that helped Queen Serenity maintain order in the Moon Kingdom will help you maintain order on your desk, with this Rainbow Moon Chalice Sailor Moon paper clip case.

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The times they are a-changin': Snapshots of Tokyo 50 years ago vs. today【Photos】

Once upon a time, Tokyo was nowhere near the sprawling megalopolis that it is today. Long ago, it wasn’t a sure thing that the small fishing village known as Edo would someday become one of the most bustling cities in the world.

But let’s skip Tokyo’s early years and fast-forward to a slightly more recent age. Ever wondered what the city looked like half a century ago, before the towering skyscrapers and iconic neon lights? Today, we are proud to present a visual comparison of Tokyo, 50 years ago versus the modern day!

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Pint-sized string quartet Joyous String does an awesome Smooth Criminal

Tiny, adorable, and blessed with bags of musical talent – meet Joyous String, a four-kid string quartet with musical aptitude way beyond their years. They’ve been playing together since they were just four years old, and have progressed to the point where they can produce a flawless rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Smooth Criminal” without even breaking a sweat. These are some seriously talented kids!

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There’s something fishy about that catch! People in Chinese city urged not to eat floating carp

In a city in China’s southwestern Shichuan Province during the early hours of April 2, a man walking alongside the river suddenly noticed what appeared to be huge quantities of pale fish floating in the water.

He quickly rushed home and returned with fishing equipment, and was soon joined by crowds of amateur fishers – and local officials, who subsequently hauled 300 kilograms of fish from the river to be destroyed.

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3-D printer “Lunchbot” will put pretty patterns on your rice while you get ready for work 【Video】

As a kid growing up in the 80s, I had imagined that by the year 2015, we’d either be waging war against an army of unstoppable killing machines of our own creation or zipping to work by hoverboard (or perhaps in phallus-shaped train pods) while enjoying eggs ‘n’ bacon in tablet form. Alas, science has let me down on both fronts, with the closest thing I have in my life to robot warfare being Apple constantly bugging me to sign in to the Cloud or Facebook suddenly deciding that we all have to download a totally separate smartphone app just to receive private messages.

But at least we can now let machines make our bento lunches look pretty while we’re busy ironing a shirt or looking for the keys to our stupid, dead dinosaur-fuelled cars. Say hello to Lunchbot.

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What secret does Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary website hide?

All of you dedicated Mario lovers out there probably already know, but this year is apparently the 30th anniversary of what some might consider the most important video game ever: Super Mario Bros. Even if you don’t particular enjoy the game, you still have to admit that it’s certainly had a massive impact on the world of video games–and kept Nintendo solvent through so, so, so many sequels and variations.

Nintendo has put a site specifically celebrating the pearl anniversary of the mustachioed hero’s namesake game, but some Internet sleuths have discovered a secret lurking somewhere on the website! Check out the screenshot above to see if it has any hints, take a guess and then click below to see if you got it right…

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Meet Pyuri-tan, the new manga heroine who’s the literal embodiment of Puritan Christianity

For centuries, Christianity has had a role in the creation of some of the finest works of art. Any comprehensive discussion of art history has to include Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and a host of other important paintings and sculptures from artists who don’t share their names with one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Speaking of comics, there’s a new manga that’s just started in Japan. Looking at its earnest, wholesome heroine, you might get the impression that it’s like any of a hundred other series the country has produced, but this manga lead has something that makes her unique: she’s the literal embodiment of Puritan Christianity.

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Distant relatives: Domestic cat’s face of horror on seeing pride of lions on TV

There’s a lot you can learn about your cat simply by paying attention to its body language. Tail up in the air and ears pricked? It’s happy to see you. Crouching down low with ears flat back? It’s probably scared. Hair standing on end and fangs bared? You might want to protect your jugular.

But even if you’re not a cat owner, we think you’ll be able to imagine how this particular kitty, who has just caught sight of a pride of lions on a TV documentary, is feeling when you get a look at his little face.

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Car Wars! “X-Wings” is the movie we wish Disney-Pixar would make next 【Video】

Everybody loves a good Disney/Pixar movie (unless you don’t, in which case you obviously hate fun). And (mostly) everybody loves awesome automobiles and methods of transportation. First, we had “Cars”, and then we had “Planes”. The next logical step has to involve outer space, right? (Huh? Trains? Boats? Drones? Ssh…) After all, we all love space movies like Interstellar and, you know, Star Wars.

Now, we finally have the perfect marriage of space hi-jinks and cute animation in X-Wings, aka Car Wars! Wait, what?

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Anime fan stumbles across the recipe for Dragon Ball Z Parent and Child Rice Bowl

Japanese cuisine is filled with dishes that end in don, meaning “rice bowl.” One of the most descriptive is oyakodon, literally “parent and child bowl.”

Ordinarily, oyakodon is rice topped with chicken and egg. Some sushi restaurants, though, have their own variation which instead uses sliced raw salmon and ikura (salmon roe). And now, one clever anime fan has come up with yet another version, the Dragon Ball Z oyakodon rice bowl.

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Six-year-old girl roughed up by group of adult men opposed to U.S. forces in Okinawa

In an incredibly sad turn of events, a group of men who identify with those who oppose the presence of a U.S. base in Okinawa turned their anger towards a Japanese-American six-year-old girl late last month, allegedly shoving her to the ground and demanding to know, “Why are Americans in a place like this?

As this attack could be qualified as a hate crime, you might be wondering why you haven’t heard more about this. Well, the reason could be just as shameful as the attack itself.

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