Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride

Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride

Japan’s shinkansen, or bullet train in the West, was the world’s first high-speed train running at 200km per hour, and today the Tōkaidō Shinkansen is the world’s most used high-speed rail line. Impressively, even with over 120,000 trains running on the line each year, the average delay time is a mere 36 seconds!

Part of the reason the bullet train system can run as smoothly as it does is thanks to the ‘hospitality group’ working behind the scenes of the sleek, futuristic facades of these famous trains. These cleaning crews are charged with covering every inch of a train’s interior when it arrives at its final stop and preparing it for the next wave of customers–and they have just seven minutes to do it.

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One more check on your Japan ‘to do’ list: New capsule hotel to open at Narita Airport!

One more check on your Japan ‘to do’ list: New capsule hotel to open at Narita Airport!

Capsule hotels are eternally fascinating to all who visit Japan. Their compact size, cheap prices, and spaceship-bunk-like nature seem quite bizarre to most people who have never had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in a submarine. While most of us want the largest hotel room money can buy, a capsule hotel literally crams people into the tiniest space available, while offering some incredible conveniences.

But when visiting Japan, there’s lots to see and do, so it’s easy to forget about checking yourself into a capsule. Fortunately, you’ll soon be able to find out what it’s like to be stuffed in a tube even at the airport!

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Tokyo pub offers “balding discount” for follicly-challenged diners

Tokyo pub offers “balding discount” for follicly-challenged diners

A Japanese pub deep in the heart of white-collar Tokyo wants to help out their customers whose heads are showing the consequences of too much stress and hard work (and perhaps a bit of genetics too).

The restaurant hopes that instead of covering their heads with a complex comb-over or taking a cue from monks to shave it all off, “salarymen” white-collar workers treat their thinning hair as a badge of honor and proof of their dedication to help the struggling Japanese economy. And to show their support, the restaurant has announced a generous “balding discount” as a way of thanking follicly-challenged gents for sacrificing their precious locks for the country!

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Japanese avocado sprouts very strange sprout

Japanese avocado sprouts very strange sprout

Did you know that you can grow an avocado tree from a pit by soaking it in water? It’s true! It’s easy enough that children and those severely lacking in green fingers of any kind can manage it. But Mother Nature is a weird lady, and she sometimes produces some very strange results, as one user on the Japanese message board Kinisoku recently found out.

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There’s a restaurant in China where all the food is prepared and served by robots

There’s a restaurant in China where all the food is prepared and served by robots

The Robot Restaurant in China’s Heilongjiang Province is a conventional restaurant in every sense, save the glaring exception that the food is prepared and served entirely by an army of 20 robots with just a modicum of human oversight.

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More animals grace the backs of Japanese students

More animals grace the backs of Japanese students

How far would you go to be the epitome of cool at your high school? Growing up, you had to have all the right accessories, slap bracelets, JanSport backpacks, and Gap sweatshirts to be “in”. You would think the days of bright colors and zany patterns used just to stand apart from the crowd were gone the way of the 90s. Now, brand names and “style” rule the hallways. But Japan proves again that gaudy and garish aren’t negative qualities.

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Chinese beach glows beautiful blue in the dead of night 【Photos】

Chinese beach glows beautiful blue in the dead of night 【Photos】

More often than not when we come across photos of China’s rivers or sea these days, they are accompanied by tales of environmental destruction and depressing statistical data on recent pollution levels. So for once, it’s nice to see some photos being shared online here in Japan that show China looking pretty.

And it doesn’t get much prettier than a beach sparkling a magical blue at night.

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Purchase these bizarre capsule toys because… reasons

Purchase these bizarre capsule toys because… reasons

Capsule toys are basically just useless collector’s items that you can buy in Akihabara and other areas of Japan where nerds hang out. They almost always cost one single coin; That is, deceptively, 500 yen (US$5) or less, because that’s the largest coin currency available in Japan.

They’re usually a cheap pickup that combine the low cost of molded plastic trinkets with the inherent collector’s value of some popular video game or anime characters. Of course, there are also capsule toys like these that defy any explanation whatsoever and seemingly exist just to capture the attention of extremely drunk or eccentric people.

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Crayon Shin-chan butt pudding: a dessert that twerks! 【gifs】

Crayon Shin-chan butt pudding: a dessert that twerks! 【gifs】

The manga character Crayon Shin-chan is known for his outlandish comments and risque behavior (for a 5-year-old anyway), so it’s no surprise that when a branded pudding kit was released for him, a pair of buns was included as one of the molds.

A pudding shaped like a butt is funny enough, but one home chef decided to kick it up a notch and designed a presentation to show off those cheeks in all their jiggly glory.

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Bras and panties for men just got even pinker and fluffier

Bras and panties for men just got even pinker and fluffier

Earlier in the year, we brought you the news that you can now buy men’s bras and panties on Japanese shopping site Rakuten. Well, the online retailer – the beautifully named Wish Room Men’s – have released their new spring range. We are pleased to announce that it’s even pinker, frillier, and more adorable than ever!

Join us after the jump for impressively muscled manikins, lacy panties, and A-cups galore.

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Why do so few young Japanese want to work overseas?

Why do so few young Japanese want to work overseas?

Back when my college days were winding down, my job hunting had turned up two promising leads. One was with a Los Angeles-based fruit exporter, and the other was with a chain of English schools in Japan. As appealing as the idea of having an inside track to some of the world’s finest citrus was, in the end, the siren song of living and working overseas was just too enticing to resist.

Seeing as how that decision eventually led me to some amazing experiences, a wonderful spouse, and a job that occasionally pays me to drink beer, I’d say it was a good call. Still, it’s not all intriguing discoveries and delicious food, as culture shock and homesickness are also parts of leaving the country you grew up in. As much as I love it, living overseas isn’t for everyone, including more than half of new college graduates in Japan, according to one recent survey.

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Wisteria bonsai proves big beauty comes in small packages 【Photos】

Wisteria bonsai proves big beauty comes in small packages 【Photos】

As you probably already know, bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees or shrubs in planters. You’ve may have already seen at least some tiny potted junipers, a common species for bonsai, at some point, but actually many different species are suitable for bonsai, including some flowering trees like wisteria, or fuji in Japanese.

Fuji has special significance in Japanese culture, supposedly representing beginnings, especially the start of a romance, and has been mentioned in historical waka poems going back to the 8th century. However, you don’t have to be Japanese to appreciate the beauty of these dangling ombre flowers, particularly when they come in the exquisitely tiny bonsai variety.

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6 challenges to international relationships (and how to make them work)

6 challenges to international relationships (and how to make them work)

Dating someone outside of your culture can be amazing for many reasons: you get to connect with someone across cultural lines, broaden your ideas about the world by learning about another’s experiences and ways of thinking, and also to share a life that spans countries and cultures.

However, it’s not without its problems. It can be hard to bridge cultural gaps and fit your lives together perfectly. While they are by no means exclusive to international couples, the following six points are common challenges in international relationships.

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A look back at President Obama’s visit to Japan

A look back at President Obama’s visit to Japan

President Obama made headlines during his visit to Japan, not for his diplomatic mission, but for his first order of business: dining at arguably the best sushi restaurant in the world. Greenpeace was angry about him consuming endangered bluefin tuna, but everyone else seemed to look upon his choice in Japanese dining experience favorably, many extremely jealous of the opportunity to consume expertly crafted sushi.

But aside from raising the hackles of environmental organizations and causing the world to crave raw fish,  President Obama also had some other unexpected influences on the country of Japan. From the invention of new hashtags to the accumulation of trash around Tokyo, let’s take a look back at the Obama Effect on Japan.

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Nissan has made a self-cleaning car

Nissan has made a self-cleaning car

Nissan

Now that Nissan has revolutionized the rearview mirror, it has moved on to another problem: It is developing a self-cleaning car.

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This rice omelet is so cute, it’ll make you see stars!

This rice omelet is so cute, it’ll make you see stars!

In Japan, omuraisu (rice omelet) is a ketchup-flavored fried rice wrapped inside a thin piece of cooked egg. It’s a popular yoshoku (Japanese-style western cuisine), much like other favorites such as beef stew (beef shichu) or fried prawn (ebi furai). And while rice omelets can be found on the menus of many eateries across Japan, including practically all family restaurant chains, we’re sure you’ll see that there’s something quite special about the omuraisu in the picture above that was recently shared by Twitter user erikichi0115. Yes, the omelet has been infused, it seems almost magically, with pretty white stars. And the picture has taken the Japanese twitterverse by storm, making everyone wonder how in the world the star-spangled omelet was created!

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Lupin III springs into action in trailer for live-action movie 【Video】

Lupin III springs into action in trailer for live-action movie 【Video】

Earlier this month, producers shared the first photos of the cast of the upcoming live-action Lupin III film. Fans were excited to see the band of rouges from the hit anime and manga in the flesh, and now they can see them in motion thanks to the release of the movie’s trailer.

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China issues public service announcement over “somersault kiss” trend【Video】

China issues public service announcement over “somersault kiss” trend【Video】

Videos of people attempting an acrobatic move that starts in a somersault and ends in a kiss have been sweeping across Chinese microblogging site Weibo this week, prompting an official warning from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

The so-called “somersault kiss” has spawned compilation videos of couples putting a bit of acrobatic excitement into their relationship by trying out the move in bedrooms, dormitories, and car parks – resulting in plenty of falling over, inadvertent head-butting, and other amusing results. The Ministry of Public Security went so far as to post a warning message on one of its official Weibo sites, telling people not to imitate the risky move.

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Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared

Drink like a world leader with the $10 sake President Obama and Prime Minister Abe shared

During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.

And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?

Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.

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KFC launches collaboration with soccer star Ronaldo, ensures next generation will be too fat to play

KFC launches collaboration with soccer star Ronaldo, ensures next generation will be too fat to play

KFC Japan has announced it is getting in on the fast food giant’s tie up with international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo starting April 28 by offering new menu items at all Japanese stores. Ronaldo’s face may be all over this stuff, but something tells me this kind of fully fried meal doesn’t actually go in his face very often…

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