animals

Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

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Japan’s Rabbit Island – Yes, it really does exist

Japan’s Rabbit Island – Yes, it really does exist

In some ways, the island of Okunoshima, in western Japan’s Setonaikai Inland Sea, seems like a terrible vacation spot. It’s already in an out-of-the-way region of the country, and with no connecting bridges, the only way to get there is by boat.

Then there’s its dark past. During the 1920s, ‘30s, and early ‘40s, Okunoshima was the site of a secret chemical weapons lab for the Japanese Imperial Army. The clandestine work being carried out there earned it the sinister nicknames Poison Gas Island and The Island Erased from the Maps.

Happily, the postwar years have seen a return to more peaceful, benign activities on Okunoshima. As a matter of fact, in the last few years it’s become one of the area’s most beloved tourist destinations, and the reason why is easy to see from the other name Okunoshima is called by, Rabbit Island.

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“I tape them to my monitor” – Weird things people in Japan do with their cat’s fallen whiskers

“I tape them to my monitor” – Weird things people in Japan do with their cat’s fallen whiskers

As a cat owner, I’m used to having cat hair on absolutely everything. But every so often in amongst the clouds of fur I find a dropped whisker lying alone on the floor, and for some reason it feels wrong to just throw it away. Turns out I’m not alone, and some people go a few steps further when it comes to storing these precious mementos of their feline friends.

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Guy learns powerful lesson: Sending 240 beetles in the mail will kill them all

Guy learns powerful lesson: Sending 240 beetles in the mail will kill them all

An insect collector learned the hard way last year that you should never send stag beetles in the mail, because being stuffed in a box and shipped across the country unsurprisingly kills them.

A specialist apparently sent 240 stag beetles to be delivered to the collector’s Okinawa home. When the box – supplied by the Japanese Postal Service’s “Yu-paku” goods shipping service – arrived, the collector opened it to find all 240 of the beetles decidedly un-alive, prompting the man to sue for compensation; because, come on, if you’re shipping beetles, you expect a certain amount of care to be taken.

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Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?

Who needs pre-furnished apartments when you can get one that comes with a cat?

Some Japanese apartments are incredibly sparse. In the most extreme cases, your lease gets you four walls, a kitchen sink, bathroom, and that’s it. Oh, you want lighting fixtures, a stove, and air conditioning? Sorry, you’ll have to purchase all that on your own.

As a result, savvy apartment hunters are always on the lookout for properties that include some of these amenities. And while it’s incredibly convenient to find a place that already comes with ceiling lamps, it still can’t match the thrill some animal lovers in Japan experience when they find a new pad that comes with a cat.

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Duckling savior has 13 baby ducks following him around, We’re absolutely jealous 【Video】

Duckling savior has 13 baby ducks following him around, We’re absolutely jealous 【Video】

It’s the weekend! Time to kick back, relax, and watch a few baby ducks chase after a full-grown man. A total of 13 little ducklings, to be exact!

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Keyboard Cat 2.0! Gorgeous cat reduces hoomin productivity by using hilarious drunk face【photos】

Keyboard Cat 2.0! Gorgeous cat reduces hoomin productivity by using hilarious drunk face【photos】

Even before the days of YouTube and news blogs, we humans all knew that cats, whether directly or indirectly, have a propensity for disrupting whatever activity you’re trying to focus on. Of course the internet helps with this too, A LOT. Heck, this article is probably keeping you from work right now!

Take Setsu-chan for example, a former stray who was adopted by doting Twitterer Mino (@mino_rs). Photos of this blue-eyed beauty acting cute, distracting his owner, and well, being a cat, are fast becoming an online hit. One serendipitous photo belies his natural exquisiteness, however, and this rib-tickling shot has been retweeted over 15,000 times. How does this cat from Japan manage to look like your proverbial wasted business man on the Yamanote line?

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Is Japan’s Cat Island in danger of turning into the Island of Fat Cats?

Is Japan’s Cat Island in danger of turning into the Island of Fat Cats?

There’s a Japanese proverb, “Neko ni Koban,” that translates as “Giving a gold coin to a cat.” It’s a metaphor for offering something of worth that the recipient either doesn’t need or can’t understand the value of, but it’s also a telling example of how hard it is to win a cat’s favor. Cats have no use for our money, they’re not impressed by our fashion trends, and even if they appreciate our modern sense of humor they’re too proud to let it show by openly laughing.

With so few options, in an attempt to curry favor, some people offer stray cats food (although not, in fact, a bowl of curry). But might this be causing a problem to the residents of one of Japan’s famous cat islands?

We dispatched our Japanese-language correspondent, Meg, to find out (and also pet some kitties while she was at it).

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New for obsessive pet owners: A wooden box to keep your cat’s whiskers and teeth in!

New for obsessive pet owners: A wooden box to keep your cat’s whiskers and teeth in!

Cat owners concerned that they might suddenly forget the existence of their pet or who wish to gross out potential lovers may be pleased to hear of the arrival of two new products on Amazon Japan. The “Cat Whisker Case” and “Cat Milk Tooth Case“, which retail for 1,580 yen (US$16) each, are the perfect way to commemorate your pet’s growth into adulthood and treat them as a true member of the family.

That’s right, you too can have a small box full of cat teeth or whiskers on your dressing table or mantlepiece, just waiting for some hapless visitor to stumble upon before suddenly remembering that they’ve left the oven on at home and have to leave.

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Panda and tiger face packs protect endangered species while they beautify your skin

Panda and tiger face packs protect endangered species while they beautify your skin

It’s kind of ironic that face packs, which are designed to make your skin healthier and more beautiful, actually look pretty ghoulish when they’re in use. Often, the price of eventual beauty can be spending a half-hour or so looking like either The Phantom of the Opera or Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface.

Stepping up with an alternative is a Japanese company that’s selling face masks that promise to temporarily transform their wearer into a cute panda or tiger.

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Chick-shaped pudding from Nagoya is so cute we’re tempted to keep it as a pet

Chick-shaped pudding from Nagoya is so cute we’re tempted to keep it as a pet

Even though it doesn’t have anything close to the number of sightseeing options in Tokyo or Kyoto, should you find yourself in Nagoya, consider yourself lucky. The city is one of Japan’s underappreciated gastronomic gems, and if you have the chance, you owe it to yourself to try the chicken wings made from the regional fowl, called kochin.

This being Japan, though, if there’s the opportunity to make food cute, someone’s going to do it, which is where this adorable chick-shaped custard pudding, made with kochin eggs, comes in.

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Kawasaki donut shop goes beyond cat sweets with cute alpacas, penguins, and killer whales

Kawasaki donut shop goes beyond cat sweets with cute alpacas, penguins, and killer whales

If we’re speaking honestly, we don’t really need much of an added incentive to eat a donut. Really, a sweet, inexpensive indulgence that we can eat with our hands is pretty much a laser-guided strike on our willpower.

Still, we can usually muster enough self-control that we don’t plow through a half-dozen in one sitting. But when you take donuts’ numerous preexisting merits and add the visual appeal of shaping them like cats, penguins, alpacas, and even killer whales, that’s when we stop even trying to resist them.

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Super-intelligent Chinese chinchilla cat’s giant eyes will eat your soul【Photos】

Super-intelligent Chinese chinchilla cat’s giant eyes will eat your soul【Photos】

Hey Rocketeers! Any idea how many cats RocketNews24 has featured so far? To be absolutely honest, we have no idea either. We stopped trying to keep track a long time ago, but here’s one more to add to the list!

We’ve seen fat cats, mohawk cats, and even cats who are capable of taking selfies, but this is probably the cat with the most intense eyes we’ve ever seen! He always looks so energetic and robust with his large eyes and powerful gaze, it wouldn’t be surprising even if someone mistook him for a toy!

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iPhone makeup app used to tart up family pets 【Photos】

iPhone makeup app used to tart up family pets 【Photos】

If pets have any acquaintance with makeup, it’s usually one that involves eating it, not wearing it. But it you are dying to see what Fido or Frisky would look like dolled up for a big night out, you can use a photo app like Perfect365 to give them an extra pretty face.

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Shark shocks Ibaraki aquarium staff by swallowing…another shark

Shark shocks Ibaraki aquarium staff by swallowing…another shark

With only about 20,000 residents, the city of Oarai, in Ibaraki Prefecture, isn’t exactly bursting with entertainment options. If you do find yourself with some time to kill there, though, you could stop by the Aqua World aquarium, where aquatic life including sea lions, jellyfish, and dolphins are on hand to greet visitors.

The facility is even home to a number of sharks. Don’t worry, they’re not man-eaters or anything. The sharks might just eat each other, though.

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The humane (and adorable) way to make a flat hamster 【Video】

The humane (and adorable) way to make a flat hamster 【Video】

Like most kids, I went through a period where I incessantly bugged my parents to let me have a pet, and like most parents, once they said OK, they ended up doing most of the work taking care of it.

Perhaps they knew things would turn out this way, which is why when it came time to choose an animal companion, they steered me towards a hamster. They’re quiet, relatively easy to care for, and pretty happy to stay in their cages, which meant we wouldn’t have one running around the house and tearing up the carpet.

Another thing that makes hamsters great pets is that they don’t take up much space. But if you still think the cute little rodents are just too gargantuan, there’s a way to make them even more compact, at least while they’re sleeping.

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Apparently cats enjoy cherry blossoms as much as we do【Photos】

Apparently cats enjoy cherry blossoms as much as we do【Photos】

There’s something serene and elegant about cherry blossoms. Maybe it’s their soft color, or the way the delicate petals flutter in the breeze, but the sakura are at once aesthetically enticing and deeply soothing.

Unfortunately, the flowers are also incredibly fickle, suddenly blooming and gracing us with their presence for just a few short days, before coolly vanishing, often leaving their admirers wanting more. In a way, you could say they’re like a group of adorable but capricious cats.

In that case, why not combine the two?

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Cat does bizarre dance for tiny kittens【Video】

Cat does bizarre dance for tiny kittens【Video】

My family got its first cat when I myself was barely a year old. She and I more or less grew up together, her dying (at which point I was heartbroken, naturally) when I was 23. We’ve also had a couple of other cats along the way, and whenever I see a cat in my neighbourhood here in Tokyo or visit my friends who have them, I always stop to say hello.

It turns out, however, that for all my years living with and around our domesticated feline friends, I clearly know nothing about them. I mean, can you explain what on earth this cat here is doing!?

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If real animals were Pokémon, the world would be a much weirder place

If real animals were Pokémon, the world would be a much weirder place

The creators of Pokémon were nothing if not brilliant when they decided to make the collectible creatures cute and cuddly fantastical cryptid-like animals influenced by – yet sufficiently removed from – the designs of real-world critters. This allows the player/collector to suspend their disbelief enough that they don’t feel too bad about enslaving a living, breathing thing to battle other living, breathing things for their amusement.

But when you make it the other way around – real-world animals made to look like pokémon – things get a little more disturbing. Are you or your kids willing to capture, for example, an actual fox with nine tails and make it battle a giant frog with a flower on its back for bragging rights? That scenario isn’t too far removed from real-life cockfighting and dog fights.

This wasn’t a question we had to ask ourselves in the early days of Pokémon. But then, of course, the Internet happened, and the Internet is uniquely capable of making us feel bad about almost anything. So, for your amusement/guilt, we present to you real-world animals if they were pokémon:

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Japanese pig farmer shows the world how pigs should be treated

Japanese pig farmer shows the world how pigs should be treated

A pig farmer in Japan is warming hearts around the world, thanks to a photo collection that documents his life with some 1,200 pigs. Whether he’s tending to the little piglets, sleeping with the sows, or serenading them all with tunes on his guitar, this is a farmer who loves spending time in the pen surrounded by his animals.

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