animals

Rising star of Japanese horse racing is as ridiculously fast as he is comically scatterbrained

Rising star of Japanese horse racing is as ridiculously fast as he is comically scatterbrained

There are two different ways “handicap” usually gets used in horse racing. One is to refer to the process of calculating which horse is likely to win, and how to profit from that intuition (also known as “being good at betting on horses”). The other is a system in which horses that have proven to be faster than the rest of the field carry extra weight in a race.

Today, though, we’re using it to refer to a horse that recently raced in Tokyo, who’s ridiculously fast but seemed to do everything he could to let his opponents pass him for the win.

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New book teaches you to make grated radish animals: Healthier than latte art, just as cute

New book teaches you to make grated radish animals: Healthier than latte art, just as cute

Japan’s become pretty enamored with latte art over the past few years, with baristas all over the country creating cute characters in swirls of cream and foam. But what if you’re not a coffee drinker, either because you’re watching your caffeine intake or just because your inner child won’t let you drink anything so bitter? Is there a way for you to set your table with eye-pleasing edibles?

Sure there is! All you need is a pile of grated daikon radish, and this new book that tells you how to craft it into adorable edibles.

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Gripping footage of a cat walking backwards on two legs is today’s must-see cat video

Gripping footage of a cat walking backwards on two legs is today’s must-see cat video

In a scene we’re not sure belongs in a Three Ring Circus or a feline-themed sequel to The Exorcist, a Japanese YouTuber managed to film their cat somehow not only walking on two legs – a somewhat rare occurrence compared to dogs – but doing it backwards like it does it all the time.

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Does this video about an abandoned dog leave you wiping your eyes or shaking your fist?

Does this video about an abandoned dog leave you wiping your eyes or shaking your fist?

Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of abstract personality tests. Every now and again, though, something comes around that really seems to shed light on how an individual’s mind works.

For example, if you’re extremely pure-hearted, you might see this short video of a dog reminiscing about the happy days with his former owners as a moving, even tear-jerking story. On the other hand, if you’re a bit more cynical or strict in personality, it might make you want to punch your monitor.

So which camp do you fall into? Read on and see.

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Cat Robo: The automated cat toilet that frees you from ever having to sift through kitty litter

Cat Robo: The automated cat toilet that frees you from ever having to sift through kitty litter

A few days ago, we looked at a couple of cats that were mastering the art of pooping in the (people) toilet. When you stop and think about it, though, this is sort of a mixed bag for pet owners. Sure, on one hand, this frees you from the gross task of picking clumps out of the litter box. On the other hand, sharing a toilet with your cat means a lot of hair left on the seat where you put your bare butt.

If you really want an ideal cat pooping situation (and don’t we all?), you might instead want to go with this cool high-tech cat toilet that automatically sorts the litter for you after your cat does its business.

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Japanese cats show the world what they can do: poop in (and flush!) the toilet【Videos】

Japanese cats show the world what they can do: poop in (and flush!) the toilet【Videos】

In addition to such cool things as opposable thumbs and the gift and speech, one of the areas in which we humans are clearly superior to other animals is our development of a sophisticated pooping culture. Not only have we reached an almost species-wide agreement that just leaving our feces lying around is not cool (with the exception of a few exasperatingly inconsiderate holdouts), we’ve also put our scientific know-how to use in developing systems to carry our feces away from our homes.

Now, though, it seems that mankind has a challenger to, and for, the throne, in the form of two cats in Japan that seem to be well on their way to mastering the toilet.

By the way, did you already have a nice, nutritious breakfast? If not, be advised that cats will be dropping deuces after the jump!

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Adorable Shiba Inu pooch is ready for silly adventure with his suit of crab armor

Adorable Shiba Inu pooch is ready for silly adventure with his suit of crab armor

In Japan, it seems like almost every time I see a dog owner out for a stroll with their pet, it’s wearing some sort of clothing. It always strikes me as a little weird, since dogs are already covered with fur, and for most of the year, Japan doesn’t really get cold enough to warrant an extra layer to keep them warm.

Still, I guess the owners get a kick out of it. I do feel a little sorry for the dog sometimes, though, especially if he’s been stuffed into some cutesy, frilly costume. Wouldn’t he be happier in something more masculine, like a suit of doggy armor?

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Touching video chronicles pup’s transformation from timid pound rescue to brave rescue dog

Touching video chronicles pup’s transformation from timid pound rescue to brave rescue dog

It’s been just a little over a month since the deadly landslides brought about by a powerful storm hammering Hiroshima City. Soon after the disaster struck, rescue crews sprang into action, providing shelter and medical assistance to victims.

We’re sure the residents are deeply grateful for the service of those who came to their aid, and while every man and woman who did is no doubt courageous and caring, the cutest of all was probably rescue dog Yumenosuke.

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Hit key chain from Aomori Prefecture isn’t poop, but it is still pretty gross

Hit key chain from Aomori Prefecture isn’t poop, but it is still pretty gross

I’ll be honest. When I first saw pictures of the new key chain/cell phone strap that’s become a big seller in Aomori Prefecture, my first thought was, “Wow, that looks like a turd.” The truth is actually a few levels less disgusting, as that brown, lumpy cylinder isn’t a stool sample, but actually a sea cucumber.

However, the truth behind that truth takes things a step back towards gross. When I said the strap is “actually a sea cucumber,” I mean that literally, as that’s really the body of the slug-like marine animal.

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Three reasons cats like to bring us dead things, according to Japanese site MyNavi

Three reasons cats like to bring us dead things, according to Japanese site MyNavi

It may come as no surprise to learn that here at RocketNews24 we are big fans of cats. Whether they’re perched on top of model sushi or roaming the mean streets of Japan, there’s little they can do that doesn’t bring us out in a “awwwwwwwww”.

But just occasionally, even our beloved feline friends can do things that perplex us and make us sad. Like when they break our treasured possessions and show no remorse. Or, when they bring home a still-twitching little creature and expect us to be happy about it. But why do cats do this? It’s often said to be a “gift”, as your kitty shows you they love and adore you. But Japanese site MyNavi News says there’s more to this oddball behaviour than meets the eye…

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Worker at monkey park in Japan runs for his life as the primates charge for their lunch

Worker at monkey park in Japan runs for his life as the primates charge for their lunch

I like to think of myself as someone with a pretty good ability to mentally focus. Of course, I’m not always sure I should think of myself that way, especially when I’m hungry. Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of work when my stomach starts growling, and suddenly all I can think about is how if there was any food in my immediate vicinity, I’d fall on and devour it like a pack of ravenous monkeys.

And how do I know how a pack of ravenous monkeys eats? Simple: I watched this GIF.

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Meet Issie, Japan’s very own Loch Ness Monster

Meet Issie, Japan’s very own Loch Ness Monster

You may have thought that the Loch Ness Monster had cornered the market on fresh-water cryptids, but Japan has one of its own mythical lake beasts. There may be a monster lurking in the depths of Kyushu’s Lake Ikeda, a monster who goes by the terrifying name of… Issie-kun.

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Photobook of cats in Japan goes beyond kawaii, beautifully captures many sides of feline life

Photobook of cats in Japan goes beyond kawaii, beautifully captures many sides of feline life

For those of you who need a little break from Japanese cute culture and pampered internet stars from the animal kingdom, French photographer Alexandre Bonnefoy’s photobook may be just the ticket. Neko Land: Une vie de chat au Japon (A cat’s life in Japan) reveals the many faces of street cats, communally owned cats, pets, and cat café residents found all over Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaidō.

Read on to view a large sample of the elegant and expressive work that resulted from his two-year stay, which portrays cats from many walks of life in a frank, but no less loving, manner. As Bonnefoy gives equal importance to their unadorned surroundings, let these felines guide you and immerse yourself in the often overlooked nooks and crannies of the varied communities around Japan.

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Cat Sushi figures return to Japanese vending machines! Our collection (and lives) are complete

Cat Sushi figures return to Japanese vending machines! Our collection (and lives) are complete

We recently added to our collection of weird Japanese toys by buying a couple of Doggy Bread Figures. But while the canine fans in the RocketNews24 office were happy, our resident cat lovers couldn’t help but sigh in sad reminiscence of the good old days when they could decorate their shelves with cat sushi.

Well, the worlds of Japanese cuisine and cute kitties have once again collided, as there’s a new batch of really (and surreally) cute sushi cat figures on the market, and we’ve already compiled a complete set.

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Thirsty? How about some cider made with Japanese cat nip?

Thirsty? How about some cider made with Japanese cat nip?

Even though you can find Coca-Cola in every convenience store in Japan, for the most part the country isn’t all that into carbonated soft drinks. So if you’re selling a fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage, you need some kind of unique hook.

Pepsi has made a habit of periodically releasing unusual flavors such as chestnut or cucumber-flavored sodas, but we’ve also seen smaller, regional producers put out some creative concoctions such as cider that tastes like tomatoes, tea, or olives. Even still, beverage makers haven’t exhausted every possible taste, as right now in Yokohama and Osaka you can get your hands on cider made with silver vine, or Japanese catnip.

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Japanese flutist keeps her cool, plays beautifully even with a butterfly crawling across her face

Japanese flutist keeps her cool, plays beautifully even with a butterfly crawling across her face

Part of my job at RocketNews24 is providing English titles for the videos on our YouTube channel. So my knee-jerk reaction when stumbling across a clip, from a different source, with the title “flute performance butterfly stop the face” is to point out the capitalization and syntax errors.

But you know what? Full points to whoever thought it up anyway. That jumbled cocktail of nouns and verbs just about perfectly captures what would run through any of our heads if we experienced what the woman in the video did: a butterfly crawling around her face in the middle of an important flute performance.

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Stylish new cat café in Asakusa would be nice even without the kitties, is awesome with them

Stylish new cat café in Asakusa would be nice even without the kitties, is awesome with them

Cat cafes have established a pretty solid foothold in the Japanese dining scene. That said, some of them deliver more on the “cat” than the “café” part, with pretty unimpressive interiors and menus.

That’s not a problem at Monta, though, a cat café which recently opened up in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. With stylish and colorful furnishings and delicious food, we’d be tempted to stop by even if it didn’t have a half-dozen cats running around inside.

Those cute kitties, though, sure helped seal the deal and get us through the door, though.

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Man vs. Beast! Competitive eater Kobayashi takes on hamster in hot dog-eating contest 【Video】

Man vs. Beast! Competitive eater Kobayashi takes on hamster in hot dog-eating contest 【Video】

I didn’t watch a lot of TV during college, and before you think I’m saying that to try and come off as some high-minded intellectual, I’ll quickly admit that I filled that spare time playing video games and watching anime DVDs. One program I do remember catching, though, was a Fox special in which humans went against animals in a series of contests.

In one event, Takeru Kobayashi, Japan’s champion competitive eater, was pitted against a bear to see who could eat more hot dogs. The bear won with ease, because, well, it’s a bear for God’s sake.

Now, though, Kobayashi’s back for a rematch with the animal kingdom, but this time with a smaller opponent: an adorable hamster.

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Cute cat bank collects coins, makes fiscal responsibility adorable 【Videos】

Cute cat bank collects coins, makes fiscal responsibility adorable 【Videos】

With money in Japan, the smallest denomination of bill is 1,000 yen (US $9.35), which means that you often end up having a ton of change in your pocket. With awesome vending machines on seemingly every corner, there’s an ever-present temptation to blow piles of coinage on canned drinks, especially now that some come with prizes.

Still, if you’ve got the willpower to make it home with a few coins left, you can treat yourself to a little reward if you also happen to have one of these awesomely cute motorized cat coin banks.

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Vroom-vroom, meow-meow! Driver mods his taillights into awesome “Toro” cat patterns

Vroom-vroom, meow-meow! Driver mods his taillights into awesome “Toro” cat patterns

In Japan, all cars have to undergo a vehicle inspection called shaken every two years. The ostensible reason is to make sure each part of the car is in safe, working condition, but some motorists suspect the real reasons are to bilk additional streams of revenue from owners, as well as encourage them to trade in their current cars for new models, which can go three years before their first shaken.

The system does have one upside for enthusiasts. Since cars get officially inspected every other year, traffic cops in Japan aren’t nearly as zealous as their U.S. counterparts about issuing fix-up tickets for questionable modifications they spot on the street. This means that during the two-year period between shaken checks, you have a decent chance of getting away with illegal engine mods, non-compliant body kits, or awesome grey-area cat tail lights.

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