Move over cherry blossoms, wisteria may be the most beautiful flowers in Japan

Move over cherry blossoms, wisteria may be the most beautiful flowers in Japan

There’s something so romantic about rows of wisteria swaying in the breeze. Although you can find the purple plant in various places around the world, there are three particular spots in Japan that are home to dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of wisteria plants. They just might be even more beautiful than Japan’s famous cherry blossoms.

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Dancing bear cubs straight out of Disney movie capture Japanese hearts

Dancing bear cubs straight out of Disney movie capture Japanese hearts

The Japanese Internet is going crazy over recent Finnish photos of a group of bear cubs who appear to be dancing around in a circle, reminiscent of the age-old nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie”.

Valtteri Mulkahainen, a 52-year-old Finnish photography hobbyist, says he thought he was imagining the bears dancing around, even going so far as to say the scene was so magical he wouldn’t have been surprised if they had begun singing. Given the man’s situation as he took the now-madly circulating photos, we can’t blame him for momentarily believing he was living inside of a Disney movie.

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Japan Airlines will serve KFC on flights to Tokyo

Japan Airlines will serve KFC on flights to Tokyo

Japan Airlines (JAL) announced its winter menus today, and among the selection of beef filet, foie gras mousse, and lobster ravioli is something a touch less fancy.

It’s “Air Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

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Japan celebrates Knee-High Socks Day【Photos】

Japan celebrates Knee-High Socks Day【Photos】

Japan is a land of linguistic vagaries. Take the kanji character 食, which means “eat.” Ordinarily, it’s pronounced “tabe,” but it can also be pronounced “ku,” depending on which phonetic characters follow it. Oh, unless it’s followed or preceded by a non-phonetic character, in which case it’s pronounced “shoku.”

You know what else Japan is a land of? Unabashed fetishes.

These two characteristics combine on November 28, Knee-High Socks Day.

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“You’re an otaku!” Defining Japan’s nerdiest word

“You’re an otaku!” Defining Japan’s nerdiest word

What would you say if someone were to call you an otaku? These days, people’s responses would likely fall into one of two extremes: “Hell, yeah! I’m a huge [insert hobby here] otaku!” or “Screw you! I have a life!”

Some might argue that the latter response is more likely to come from a true otaku, but very rarely do you hear someone admit to being an otaku with the nonchalant cadence of someone saying, “I’m a claims adjuster.” There’s always at least hint of bias in their tone whether its pride or embarrassment.

And yet such an emotionally charged label is still in debate with regards to its definition. To try to make sense of what an otaku is and whether it’s a good or bad thing, let’s start by looking at reasons people might say they aren’t an otaku. The following are four types of denial you might hear when calling someone an otaku as concocted by Japan’s Excite News.

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The secret to happiness: Unemployment and poverty!

The secret to happiness: Unemployment and poverty!

If Hollywood movies, the self-help section of bookstores, and TV talk show hosts are any indication, the one thing people want more than anything–and the thing they seem most incapable of finding–is happiness.

For whatever reason, it seems most people spend more time wishing they were happy than actually being happy. If you’re one of those many folks, we have a great, inspirational story for you!

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The anatomy of a cocky Japanese teenage boy circa 2013

The anatomy of a cocky Japanese teenage boy circa 2013

It would appear in Japan a new species of teenager has emerged.

Once upon a time there were Yankees, a rough and tumble group of youths who flaunted convention, rocked mullets, smoked, and occasionally resorted to fisticuffs when it was called for. Sure, they were a little unrefined but you knew where they stood.

However, now it seems a new breed of young men and women have evolved from this who enjoy climbing into freezers and standing on subway tracks for fun.  This new class is being named DQN (Dokyun) in Japan.

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Japan now has Evangelion-themed electric car chargers, and they are awesome

Japan now has Evangelion-themed electric car chargers, and they are awesome

As waste gasses from fossil fuels continue to choke our planet and money-grubbing businessmen propose plans to frack (and that’s not some coy euphemism) the very ground we walk on to get at even more of the stuff, more and more people are doing their bit to be kind to the environment. Solar panels can be seen up on the roofs of residential buildings, people separate their waste so that as much of it can be recycled as possible, and more consumers than ever are choosing electric or hybrid vehicles.

And now, Japanese motorists have another reason to go green: Evangelion-themed electric car charging stations!

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Mario, Zelda, Halo…You’ve never seen stained glass like this before

Mario, Zelda, Halo…You’ve never seen stained glass like this before

Stained glass is typically seen in cathedrals or castles, sending cascades of colors into the elaborate interior. Images are usually biblical or inspired by the Renaissance and were made centuries ago. But what about modern stained glass art inspired by current trends and events? That’s where Martian Glasswork steps in, creating beautiful glass artwork with a video game twist.

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Why does the fifty yen coin have a hole? And other fun facts about Japanese coins

Why does the fifty yen coin have a hole? And other fun facts about Japanese coins

A fun way to get a perspective on another country’s history and culture is by looking at the currency used. The materials and design that go into making them can say a lot about what a country holds dear.

So, why don’t we take a quick look through the modern coins used in Japan and learn a little about why they look the way they do and some other tidbits along the way such as what happens when you microwave a one-yen coin and why you shouldn’t do it.

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A Japanese fast food chain invented a wrapper to help women feel comfortable chomping into a burger

A Japanese fast food chain invented a wrapper to help women feel comfortable chomping into a burger

A Japanese burger company has a new burger wrapper designed exclusively to help women eat burgers more politely.

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The real reason Doraemon is blue? New sadder tale rewrites the robot cat’s past

The real reason Doraemon is blue? New sadder tale rewrites the robot cat’s past

Japanese children have been growing up with the resourceful robo-cat Doraemon since his creation in 1969. And while the original manga may have ended more than 15 years ago, the anime series and movie installments continue to provide fresh conflict for the funny feline and his human friends.

But with so much material to keep up with, there are bound to be a few contradictions along the way. Recently, the widely understood reason behind Doraemon’s blue coloring was flat-out replaced by an even sadder version of the tale. So, why is it that a robotic cat from the near-distant future is earless and blue?

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Smartphone version of Dragon Quest free to the first million people

Smartphone version of Dragon Quest free to the first million people

The first version of Square Enix’s Lady Lora-saving slime-battling RPG, Dragon Quest, is now available on your smartphone…for free! But hurry up and download it fast, it’s only available to the first one million downloaders.

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Why is Studio Ghibli’s latest movie struggling at the box office?

Why is Studio Ghibli’s latest movie struggling at the box office?

We recently made the trip to our local theater to watch Kaguya Hime no Monogatari, the latest full-length feature from anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli. But while we felt the film delivered the same high-quality we’ve come to expect from the studio, we were also struck by how different it is in style and tone from what audiences have become used to in Ghibli’s anime.

As a matter of fact, the shift from the norm seems to be a little too jarring for many fans, who aren’t filling seats in the same droves they ordinarily do for Studio Ghibli’s offerings. The situation is severe enough that one Japanese film critic is already condemning the movie’s opening weekend box office numbers as a financial failure.

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Cheeky otter photos that are too cute not to post!

Cheeky otter photos that are too cute not to post!

You know we can’t resisting sharing pictures of adorable animals, because we know you love them too! In today’s picture loot, we have some irresistibly cute otters ready to put a smile on your face, because cats and hamsters are too mainstream. Check out these cheeky splashing fellows!

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Inmate of Tohoku prison within nuclear evacuation zone sues TEPCO for emotional distress

Inmate of Tohoku prison within nuclear evacuation zone sues TEPCO for emotional distress

It’s been three years since the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster swallowed up whole cities and caused one of the worst nuclear power disasters in history. For much of the world the devastating event is a distant memory – except for people in California who, for some reason, to this day think swimming in the ocean is going to give them three eyes or four boobs or something.

But for many living near the crippled Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, like the inmates at a Kagoshima City prison located within the nuclear evacuation zone, the Tohoku earthquake and the persistent effects of the subsequent nuclear disaster altered their lives forever; so says a former inmate who is formally suing TEPCO for emotional distress.

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Real-life Winnie the Pooh caught stealing honey, on run from the law

Real-life Winnie the Pooh caught stealing honey, on run from the law

When wildlife researchers in Kochi Prefecture set up an unmanned camera in a local forest to find the cheeky wilderness creature stealing honey from an animal trap they’d set up, they probably expected to find a clever squirrel or some other creature too small or quick to set off the trap door.

Instead, what they found in video footage was what can only be described as real-life Winnie the Pooh turned to petty crime to fund his hopeless honey addiction.

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Teacher accidentally fires confiscated “fake” gun in Fukuoka Prefecture school

Teacher accidentally fires confiscated “fake” gun in Fukuoka Prefecture school

In Japan where guns are an incredibly rare sight, toy guns and replicas can often look like the real thing. So when a teacher at a middle school in Fukuoka Prefecture confiscated what they thought was a fake gun from a student, the teacher handled the “toy” with very little care, and ended up accidentally discharging it in the staff room.

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10 Japanese inventions that changed the world (according to Chinese media)

10 Japanese inventions that changed the world (according to Chinese media)

Japan has invented some pretty cool things; Mario, the Nissan Skyline, and PlayStation to name a few. Sure, sexy cars and even sexier game systems are great, but what would you choose as the truly exceptional Japanese inventions that influenced the world? Chinese media site, Xinhua Net News, weighed in on this question, giving us their top 10 list of most influential inventions from Japan.

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Japanese netizens disgusted by Ikea Japan’s bright blue and yellow ice cream

Japanese netizens disgusted by Ikea Japan’s bright blue and yellow ice cream

Japan is full of beautifully crafted desserts of natural green, subtle pink and pure white. You’d be hard pressed to find the lime greens and neon blues of many Western snacks, especially those found in the United States. That’s why when Ikea Japan announced their lineup of food to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Shinmisato branch, many Japanese net users were surprised by their choice of colors. Some are even saying that the unnatural colors are enough to make you lose your appetite.

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