animals

Ah, isn’t that cute? This rice omelet thinks it’s a corgi!

Ah, isn’t that cute? This rice omelet thinks it’s a corgi!

There are certain meats you can find at restaurants in Japan that aren’t exactly common in the western world. Whale is the one most likely to get foreign visitors up in arms, but with some pretty extensive searching, you can also find establishments serving up monkey and frog.

That isn’t to say Japanese culinary/cultural values are completely different from those of Europeans and North Americans. For example, people in Japan don’t really believe in turning dogs into food.

But turning food into a dog? That’s something the whole world can get behind.

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From hot spring to hot pot: One restaurant in Tokyo is actually serving wild monkey

From hot spring to hot pot: One restaurant in Tokyo is actually serving wild monkey

Imagine yourself sitting down to a delicious warming winter meal. There’s nothing like nabe (Japanese hot pot) on a dark, cold evening. And there are so many choices! Pork, chicken, fish, seafood, monkey… Hang on a second … MONKEY?!

As soon as they heard that monkey hot-pot was on the menu at the Sakagura Niigata restaurant in Tokyo, a reporter from our Japanese sister site headed out to find out if it could possibly be true. Here’s what they found.

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So like us – Monkey takes dip in hot spring, brings iPhone

So like us – Monkey takes dip in hot spring, brings iPhone

Along with Mt. Fuji and the Shibuya scramble intersection, a snapshot of a woman chatting on a cell phone while dressed in a kimono is one of the must-have photos from any extensive stay in Japan. That seamless blending of the traditional and high-tech is a perfect encapsulation of just what makes Japan such a compelling society.

Hmm, you know what? We forgot to include a picture of a monkey in a hot spring on our photography checklist. That’s another one of those “Only in Japan” scenes, right? But what if you’re running short on time? Is there any way to multitask and combine our subjects?

Sure there is, with this picture of a primate taking a dip in a hot spring with his very own smartphone.

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We knew elephants could paint, but we didn’t expect them to be so good at it!【Video】

We knew elephants could paint, but we didn’t expect them to be so good at it!【Video】

We’re all talented in ways that others aren’t; some of us are born artists, while some can barely draw anything more complex than a stick man. It seems that would be the case with elephants too. It is said that in every 200 elephants trained to paint, only about four manage to master the skill.

Of course, in the case of elephants, painting is skill they are trained to remember, not an inborn talent. Even with that said, some of the drawings they make are so impressive, we can’t help but wonder if some natural talent is involved!

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SoftBank’s mascot dog behaving badly at bizarre press conference

SoftBank’s mascot dog behaving badly at bizarre press conference

Japan’s SoftBank Corporation recently put together a typically bizarre commercial to advertise their new student discount service, and held a press conference to announce it. In attendance was the famous SoftBank dog, and a couple of large pears, who all got a little over-excited. When dealing with huge talents like these, things don’t always go to plan…

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Ape escape! Emergency manoeuvres at Ueno Zoo as world’s least-threatening gorilla gets loose

Ape escape! Emergency manoeuvres at Ueno Zoo as world’s least-threatening gorilla gets loose

Visitors to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo were asked to evacuate the premises yesterday after it was reported that a gorilla had become loose from its enclosure. More than 50 members of staff immediately leapt into action, preparing giant nets and tranquilizer guns to take down the rampaging, and undeniably cuddly looking, animal.

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Perfectly timed photo reminds us that life’s not all bad

Perfectly timed photo reminds us that life’s not all bad

Yes, it’s still only Wednesday, and that means we’re only half way through the week. But if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person like the little guy pictured above, that means we’re now half way through the week, and the weekend is in sight!

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Warning: This cat is so cute it could affect your sanity!【Photos】

Warning: This cat is so cute it could affect your sanity!【Photos】

Were you starting to think, “RocketNews24 hasn’t been posting cat pictures recently”? We hear you! Here’s a cat that has been rated too cute for sanity. Are you ready to lose some marbles?

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Creative pet “haircuts”: Funky or funny? You decide.

Creative pet “haircuts”: Funky or funny? You decide.

We’re pretty sure many of you would agree that a haircut can make or break your overall image. If you’ve been through disastrous haircut experiences that left you seething in hate and wanting to strangle your hairdresser, you’ll probably be able to empathize with these furry buddies who went through an epic FML moment.

But to be honest, some of them actually look pretty cool!

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Pictures only cat owners will think are awesome

Pictures only cat owners will think are awesome

Hardcore cat owners kind of form a special club. It’s a club filled with people who have tacky paintings of cats sitting at dinner tables in their foyers, people who enjoy the smell of catnip, and those that actually own so many felines that they only named the first dozen and then just started numbering them.

For the rest of us, the cat obsession might seem like an obscure, sort of off-putting hobby, or maybe even a kind of mental illness brought about by sniffing too many litter boxes. These pictures are not for those people. These pictures are for cat lovers. If you are a cat lover, you will be tickled pink. If you have only seen cats in Internet memes, stop reading now. This post is not for you.

Let the cat love begin:

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Nine places where cat lovers in Japan can step up their devotion to worship

Nine places where cat lovers in Japan can step up their devotion to worship

Japan loves its cats. When feline fans here aren’t going online to swap trivia about their favorite members of the animal kingdom, they’re playing with cute kitties between sips of coffee at one of the nation’s many cat cafes.

At times, it even seems like “love” doesn’t properly convey the depths of their emption, and that it would be more appropriate to say some people worship the creatures, which is exactly what you can do at these nine shrines and temples dedicated to cats.

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Japanese aquariums with heated tables keep guests warm as they watch life under the sea

Japanese aquariums with heated tables keep guests warm as they watch life under the sea

On a hot summer day, it’s hard to find a better way to beat the heat than with a visit to the aquarium. Whether you’re being entertained by dolphins performing tricks for an audience, or just quietly watching the mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow as the fish swim in their tanks, it’s always a refreshing and soothing experience.

However, all of this gets reversed in the winter. Instead of looking cooling, the water just looks freezing, and aquariums regularly see attendance drop in step with the temperature. So how can they convince people to come see their friends from under the sea during the coldest part of the year?

In the case of two aquariums in Japan, by keeping visitors warm with heated “kotatsu” tables in front of their display tanks.

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Japan seems just a little more terrifying with discovery of local leech’s superpower

Japan seems just a little more terrifying with discovery of local leech’s superpower

Japan is rightfully billed as being an extremely safe country, and for the most part this extends to its natural environment. Lacking the wolves of Europe and North America, the lions and hippopotami of Africa, and the poisonous everything of Australia, there really isn’t a whole lot lurking in the Japanese animal kingdom that frightens us.

Or at least there wasn’t, until we heard the news that Japan is home to a species of super leeches that can even survive being frozen.

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Fishermen (illegally) save endangered Japanese fish species

Fishermen (illegally) save endangered Japanese fish species

In a somewhat complicated story we’re not sure is heartwarming or kind of devastating, three middle-aged Tokyo fishermen have accomplished what experts thought was impossible by single (triple?)-handedly bringing an area fish species back from the brink of extinction by illegally catching them.

The three men, according to their accounts, caught the fish and, upon learning that they were on the endangered species list, contacted experts and aquariums for advice on breeding them – either for the sake of fishkind or for the sake of tons of delicious illicit fish meat.

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A collection of 30 cats, a collective 60 seconds before sneezing

A collection of 30 cats, a collective 60 seconds before sneezing

Cats, the conventional logic goes, are the refined pet choice. Unlike dogs, whose motivations are so shallow that their loyalty can be won with a handful of sausages, cats are discerning creatures. They give their love to those who earn it, and only on their own terms, putting up the sort of uncaring exterior that would make them archetypical romantic leads in a dating simulator.

For many cat lovers, the hard-fought affection from a feline is all the more valuable than similar sentiments from other members of the animal kingdom. The back and forth of developing trust with a new acquaintance, the eventual thawing of an initially frosty reception, are these not like the social dances engaged in by humans?

However, cats also share another, less graceful aspect with we humans: they look really, really weird just before they sneeze.

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If you give a mouse a cookie… you might get some chocolate in return

If you give a mouse a cookie… you might get some chocolate in return

Twitter user @sazaki0 recently got an unpleasant surprise when she discovered a mouse had taken up residence in her house, but this particular mouse had far better manners than your average rodent, offering a gift of chocolate to the lady of the house. Her full story after the jump.

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How glam is your pussy? Cat wigs hot in 2014

How glam is your pussy? Cat wigs hot in 2014

Meet Shiro and Mimi, just two of the stars of Kago Neko, a blog all about one Japanese cat fan’s pets. Sadly, the pair were not, in fact, born with such luscious barnets, but their owner, perhaps sensing their inner glam rock star, provided them with a couple of rather fetching blonde wigs. We think you’ll agree that they look pretty rockin’.

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Nullify your New Year’s weight loss resolution with Year of the Horse roll cake

Nullify your New Year’s weight loss resolution with Year of the Horse roll cake

In Japan, 2014 will be another “Horse Year” on the Japanese zodiac calendar. Last year, Japan celebrated the snake, which is said to bring wisdom and good monetary fortune to businesses. The horse, however, brings leadership, good business partnerships, and instant failure to all weight loss resolutions in the form of this adorable customized roll cake from Tokyo’s renowned Rihga Royal Hotel.

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Shiba realizes walk time is actually a vet visit, feels betrayed by owners

Shiba realizes walk time is actually a vet visit, feels betrayed by owners

Kids and dogs are a lot alike in that doctor visits terrify them. Unlike kids, however, you can’t bribe dogs with after-doctor ice cream, so a lot of owners use the mostly foolproof trick of convincing their dog it’s walk time.

You can only pull that trick so many times, however, before the dog gets wise, which results in hilarious tug of war matches between pet and owner, as depicted in this adorable picture from a Japanese shiba owner.

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Japanese cat owner illustrates the many sleeping positions of our feline friends

Japanese cat owner illustrates the many sleeping positions of our feline friends

As winter grows deeper and colder, the bed is one of our safe havens of warmth and comfort. The same can be said for our feline companions that snuggle into bed with us to seek refuge from the winter chill. As they cuddle up to our warm bodies the cats morph into various and interesting positions. Have you experienced the same with your own cat? Check out these adorable pictures and compare!

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