awesome

Burn baby burn! The Shinto inferno of Japan’s Dondo Yaki ceremony

When entering the grounds of a Shinto shrine in Japan, it’s customary to first stop by the water basin near the gate and rinse your hands, and sometimes your mouth, in order to cleanse them. Water isn’t the only classical element held to have purifying properties in Shintoism, though, since the same can be said about fire.

Obviously, worshippers aren’t called upon to put fire on their palms or inside their mouths. Instead, Shinto priests light pyres of charms and decorations during the Dondo Yaki ceremony, with the towering blazes regularly reaching 15 meters (49.2 feet) into the air.

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Expat’s video says “Welcome to My Japan,” and you ought to take him up on the awesome invitation

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who moved to Japan and stayed for exactly two years. Most of the study and work opportunities that initially bring people here are 12-month programs, and while plenty of people decide that’s enough Japan for them, most people who manage to adapt and thrive during that first year reup for an even longer stay.

One such example is Canadian Thomas Simmons, who’s now been in Japan for four and a half years and counting. Given the country’s relatively small geographic size, you might think that’s enough time to see everything, but as the powerful video Simmons created about his experiences so far shows, he’s just getting started with his life in Japan.

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With adult responsibilities looming, Japanese teen lets loose with epic Frozen chalkboard art

With winter break over, students in Japan are looking at a straight shot with no major breaks until the end of the school year in spring. For teens in their third and final year of high school, that means it’s almost time to take the big step of going off to college or finding a job, both of which mean probably having to cut back on silly hijinks.

That’s why when one Japanese 12th grader found an empty classroom, she couldn’t resist the temptation to let loose with youthful exuberance, especially since she knew it might be one of her last chances to do so. She didn’t take advantage of the lack of adult supervision to vandalize the school, though, but decided to beautify it with some awesome Frozen chalkboard art instead.

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Melon topped with ice cream: two great Hokkaido tastes in one crazily delicious package

Japan sure loves its parfaits, and while they all come with tasty toppings, the most highly regarded come crowned with fruit. But what if you turned the concept on its head, and instead took a piece of premium produce, then added a cone’s worth of ice cream on top?

You’d have our newest dessert infatuation: the fresh melon soft serve.

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Chibatman speaks! Costumed superhero addresses crowd at Chiba’s Coming of Age Ceremony【Video】

Last Monday in Japan was Coming of Age Day, the national holiday which celebrates everyone who’s reached the age of 20, and thus legal adulthood, during the past 12 months. 20 is also the drinking age in Japan, and while safeguards against minors getting boozed up are pretty lax in the country, many people decide to exercise their newly acquired legal right to get as tanked up as humanly possible, which probably had something to do with the childishly inconsiderate behavior and scuffles with the police that broke out during some of the festivities in Okinawa.

Not every part of Japan was marked with lawlessness that day, though. As a matter of fact, a coming of age ceremony in Chiba Prefecture featured a special appearance by Chibatman, who showed that he speaks Japanese in the same extra gravely voice heard in the English versions of his most recent movies.

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“100 Sizzling Japanese Maids in Action” video is less sexy yet more awesome than it sounds

Japan has a long-standing and highly publicized infatuation with maid outfits. As such, it’s really not much of a surprise that you can find a video on YouTube that bears the English title 100 Sizzling Japanese Maids in Action.

The 100-second video isn’t a contribution to Japan’s highly specialized pornography industry though. Rather, it’s an ad for something altogether less prurient, as its true theme isn’t so much “hot girls” as “hotcakes.” It is, nevertheless, extremely compelling viewing.

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Internet ready to shut up and take your money as preorders finally start for Cat Ear Headphones

Last summer, were you one of the many people who screamed “Shut up and take my money!” when we brought you news of the prototype cat ear-shaped headphone/speakers from recent startup AxentWear? If so, your harshly worded enthusiasm has been rewarded, as preorders have at last begun for the futuristically feline gadgets.

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Samurai tennis! Professional Kei Nishikori trades racquet for a sword in this awesome new ad

Last year, Nissin, makers of Cup Noodle instant ramen, created the awesome Samurai in Brazil ad, in which a soccer player clad in Japanese armor travelled to South America to show off his footwork to the locals. The company later caught up with the freestyle soccer expert in Europe with a sequel, Samurai in Manchester .

In its newest commercial, Nissin isn’t just switching venues, but sports, too, as Samurai in New York features one of the best tennis players in the world, who proves just how talented he is by leaving behind his racquet and delivering powerful forehands, backhands, and serves using a wooden sword.

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Want to buy a giant, rideable robot? Amazon Japan will sell you one

This year, my sister-in-law and nieces gave me an Amazon card for Christmas. The bookstore near my apartment in Yokohama doesn’t stock English-language books, so it’s an extremely thoughtful gift, but I haven’t actually visited Amazon’s site to pick out my new reading material, since I’m still in the middle of a lengthy novel I started during my recent flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

With a couple of hundred pages left to go, it might be a while before I actually use the card, and while I’m leaning towards a National Geographic subscription, I still haven’t ruled out the alternative of putting the card towards purchasing a giant robot, since Amazon Japan now sells those, too.

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Make studying violent with these Legendary Weapon pencil toppers

When I was in junior high school, for a couple of weeks it seemed like whenever the teacher’s back was turned, all the kids in the classroom were engaged in pencil fighting. One combatant would hold his pencil lengthwise, his opponent would try to shatter it with his own, and then they’d switch, taking turns until only one pencil was left intact.

When you stop and think about it, it’s kind of a dumb game. Sure, destruction being a critical component gives it an undeniable appeal. No matter how talented you are though, in the end, you’re just swinging around a writing instrument, and not an awesome foe-cleaving weapon.

Unless, of course, you have one of these cool Legendary Weapon pencil caps.

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Giving basketball a bit of yin-yang: Chinese martial artist’s amazing performance 【Video】

What happens when you combine the moves of traditional Chinese martial arts with the modern sport of basketball? A whole lot of awesome, that’s what.

A particular group of basketball freestylers have been making waves recently with a video of their impressive tai chi-basketball infusion.

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“2D vs. Katana” exhibition shows off recreations of swords from anime and video games in Osaka

Last year, Tokyo’s Ueno Royal Museum held an exhibition of Japanese swords inspired by the mechanical and character designs of landmark anime Evangelion. As cool as some of the pieces looked, though, you won’t find any scenes in the giant robot franchise where someone actually fights using a katana.

On the other hand, right now the Osaka Museum of History is holding an event that goes even further in bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, by displaying recreations of amazing blades seen in anime, manga, and light novel illustrations.

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Too busy to wrap Christmas presents? Not if you’ve got 12 seconds, Japanese store shows【Video】

I honestly don’t remember the last time I wrapped a Christmas present. Due to a lack of time during the busy period at the end of the year, plus a lack of manual dexterity during…my life in general…I usually just put everyone’s presents into a gift bag.

However, if you want to give someone the gift of satisfaction that can only come from tearing through some festively patterned paper, and you’re got more aptitude for arts and crafts than me (trust me, you do), there’s no need to let your hectic schedule stop you, as this video shows you how to wrap a present in just 12 seconds.

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Photos from 140 years ago show Tokyo’s skyline was amazing long before the Skytree was ever built

In 1853, the rulers of Japan ended the country’s more than two centuries of isolation from the rest of the world. But while foreigners could now get into Japan for trade and commerce, it would take more than 10 years until Japanese citizens could leave the country, meaning that outside cultural influences were still slow to find their way into the half-opened nation.

As such, there’s a brief, time capsule-like period in which Japan’s culture was still almost entirely of indigenous origins, but foreign visitors had the technology to visually document it, as shown in these beautiful photographs of 19th century Japan.

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Full-size Godzilla head to terrorize moviegoers and hotel guests in Tokyo starting next spring

When it comes to skyscrapers, Godzilla has a lot more experience tearing them down than building them up. Honestly, we can’t think of a single notable example from his six decade-long body of work in which the King of the Monsters drafts and submits a successful architectural design.

Nevertheless, the world’s most famous kaiju is about to dip his toes in the construction world, by rearing his head, in full-size, above a new building going up in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood.

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Pepsi reboots Japan’s Peach Boy with 3 action and monster-filled ads that’re 8 kinds of badass

The story of Momotaro is one of Japan’s oldest folktales, but a lot of its elements seem a little silly. For starters, the hero’s name translates as “Peach Boy.” His companions are a monkey, a dog, and a pheasant, who he wins over by giving them some sweet dumplings in exchange for their help against the story’s villains, who all have outie bellybuttons.

Goofy as these details may sound, though, the core of the tale is absolutely epic. A young hero who harnesses the power of wild beasts, then sails into the heart of demon territory to rumble with them on their island fortress? In a world where every literary and comic character is a candidate to become a darkly stylish action hero (heck, even Batman’s gritty reboot is getting its own gritty reboot), why hasn’t someone revamped Peach Boy into something closer to Peach Man?

Actually, someone already has, but you won’t find the new Momotaro in theatres, and while you might catch him flipping through the channels on TV, you can’t find his adventures scheduled in the program guide. That’s because this amazingly awesome version of Momortaro is actually a series of commercials from Pepsi.

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Japanese convenience store’s registers play Final Fantasy victory theme for special items 【Video】

Although video game developer Square Enix had dabbled in a few direct follow-ups here and there, whenever the counter for its Final Fantasy role-playing franchise rolls over to a new numbered sequel, the company completely ditches the old cast of heroes and villains, and even the previous game’s world.

But even if the narrative is starting from scratch each time, that doesn’t mean the games aren’t connected. For example, every Final Fantasy has scenes where the player rides on airships or horse-sized flightless birds called chocobos. The cursor is always a white glove with a pointing index finger, and major victories in battle are marked by the sounds of the series’ instantly recognizable “Victory Fanfare.”

Gamers have already heard the short but sweet melody played by the NES, Super NES, and PlayStations 1 through 3, and this month, they can look forward to hearing it someplace new: at the register of Lawson convenience stores when they purchase special items.

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Japan’s awesome drinkable cookies in a can mean there’s no need to pour yourself a glass of milk

For the most part, cookies in Japan are crunchy little things. One very notable exception, though, is confectioner Fujiya’s Country Ma’am line, which are soft, chewy, and also absolutely delicious.

What makes Country Ma’am cookies so good is how moist they are, and now confectioner Fujiya is taking that one step further by turning them into a drink! We got our hands on a few cans of this miraculous beverage, and while it’s still early in our relationship, we think we may be in love.

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No time to cook? Here’s how to make fried shrimp in just three seconds (with the right equipment)

One of Japan’s most popular cooking shows is Three-Minute Cooking. Broadcast by Nippon TV and sponsored by condiment maker Kewpie, the program does exactly what it promises, teaching people to make quick, tasty meals that take just three minutes of cooking.

Three-Minute Cooking started in 1963, though. In the busy 21st century, who can afford the luxury of spending that much time in the kitchen? It’s time for a faster, more modern way to cook dinner, which is where this video comes in with its demonstration of how to cook fried shrimp in just three seconds.

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Zelda hero Link’s other blade, the Fierce Deity Sword, brought to life in awesome video

While every game in Nintendo’s long-running Zelda franchise stars an elfish boy named Link who goes on a quest to save the world, each installment puts its own signature wrinkle on the formula. Wind Waker is the one with cel-shaded, storybook-like visuals. Twilight Princess is the one where Link can turn into a wolf.

And Majora’s Mask is the weird, dark one that would give little kids nightmares.

That’s not the sole distinction for title, though. Majora’s Mask is also the only place where you can see the awesome Fierce Deity Sword. Well, more accurately, it was the only place, since the awesome blade now exists in real life, too.

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