cool

Optimus Prime to upgrade from truck form to PlayStation Classic form in 2015

Optimus Prime to upgrade from truck form to PlayStation Classic form in 2015

So it’s the 30th anniversary of the Transformers, the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation, and TakaraTomy Arts is the bolder, crazier cousin of the legendary Japanese toymaker TakaraTomy (who distribute Transformer toys in Japan).

What do these three things have in common? Well, TakaraTomy Arts apparently saw that the venerable console and the adored-before-a-certain-Hollywood-filmmaker-destroyed-it cartoon robot franchise were both celebrating a milestone and decided to commemorate it the only logical way: By combining the two into a new badass toy.

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Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train 【Video】

Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train 【Video】

Fear is commonly held to be a cold sensation, which is how we ended up with English phrases like “bone-chilling” and “a chill ran down his spine.” Those idioms may not translate directly into Japanese, but Japan has also traditionally thought of feeling cold as part of being scared.

Figuring that when life hands you horror lemons, you make horror lemonade, long ago Japanese society decided to use this to its advantage, which is why in Japan summer isn’t just the season of lightweight kimonos and all-you-can-drink beer gardens, but the time for ghost stories, too.

But in this modern age, maybe you’re too busy to sit around candlelit rooms in old manor houses swapping creepy tales with your friends. So if you’ve got an active lifestyle and need to keep moving while you get your terror on, a ride on Kyoto’s ghost train might be in order.

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Godzilla looms over Tokyo garden

Godzilla looms over Tokyo garden

Since Godzilla, the King of Monsters, will be returning to his rightful home of Japan this week, it’s only right that he revisits a few of his favorite stomping grounds. In particular, this iconic giant will be paying a visit to the gardens of Tokyo Midtown, which coincidentally, are built on the same site that once belonged to the Ministry of Defense.

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Gamer discovers his deceased father’s ghost on an old Xbox game, challenges it to a race

Gamer discovers his deceased father’s ghost on an old Xbox game, challenges it to a race

Aside from indirectly putting the phrase, “If you build it, they will come,” into the popular lexicon (the actual line in the movie is “If you build it, he will come”), the 1989 film Field of Dreams is remembered for the scene where the main character plays a game of catch with the spirit of his dead father. It’s a touching and emotional scene, but sadly the sort of thing that’s only possible with movie magic.

At least, that’s true if we’re talking about baseball. But for parents and kids who bond through a love of video games, it’s actually possible to play together after a loved one passes away, as one teen recently found out.

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Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Unless you’ve got the deep pockets to take taxis everywhere or the ample patience necessary for a bus tour, sightseeing in Japan means a lot of walking. As exciting and fascinating as the country can be, hour after hour on your feet is enough to leave anyone looking for a place to sit down and have a drink, which is part of the reasons why you can always find a Starbucks near Japan’s major travel destinations.

Still, vacation only lasts so long, and many tourists don’t want to waste their time in a new city sitting in a boring old coffee house that looks just like the one in their hometown. Thankfully, the world’s most popular coffee house has gone all out with the design of these five Japanese Starbucks locations, making them sightseeing attractions in and of themselves.

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Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

Visitors to this Wakayama beach get to swim with whales this summer

As comedian and noted lover of cinnamon rolls and burritos Jim Gaffigan famously said, going whale watching is kind of boring. It’s a handful of hours of waiting around, a brief glimpse of “something I wouldn’t even watch on television,” and then your most likely drunk tour captain whisking you back to shore in time for happy hour.

And maybe Jim’s right. Sure, whales are the most majestic of creatures, but is it really all that fun to spend all day on a swaying deck for a half-second glimpse of a tail or something? Scuba diving with whales would be much more exciting, but that’s sort of dangerous and you need a license. If only there were a place where whales would come right up to you on the beach and hang out for a while…

Oh, that’s right! That’s exactly what happens at Wakayama’s easy-to-read-and-pronounce Higashimuroguntaijichou Whale Beach.

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Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】

Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】

For most of the year, the tiny town of Inakadate in Aomori Prefecture doesn’t get a lot of visitors. With only some 8,000 residents, most of whom make their living through agriculture, there’s not much to do there, unless you feel like staring at the farmers’ fields.

Every summer, though, droves of visitors come to do just that, as Inakadate’s rice paddies transform into gigantic works of art. And this year is no exception.

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【TBT】It’s the little things: One more reason why we love Japan

【TBT】It’s the little things: One more reason why we love Japan

After a long week at the office, our Japanese writer Yoshio was in dire need of a pick-me-up. After stretching and clicking his back, he stood up at his desk, tucked his wallet into his back pocket and announced in unusually glum tones that he was popping out to the convenience store to grab a few things.

A few minutes later, Yoshio walked back into office and placed his little white plastic bag down on his desk with a tired sigh. But then he stopped. Looking down at his purchases inside the bag, he suddenly began beaming with a level of happiness that we hadn’t seen in quite some time.

“Oo! Sugoi!” (“Oh! That’s awesome!”) he softly exclaimed.

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Amazing highschool ninja ad has nothing to do with the product, everything to do with awesomeness

Amazing highschool ninja ad has nothing to do with the product, everything to do with awesomeness

We’ve no doubt all experienced that feeling of frustration when, right when things are getting good, our favorite TV show is interrupted by an ad break. We kick ourselves for getting suckered in, knowing full well that both the show’s makers and the networks that host it put the ads in where they did for good reason – to keep us glued to our sets that little bit longer.

But there are times when even the ads are so well made that they’re as entertaining as the shows we were watching. This new commercial for a Japanese soft drink, for example, is so cleverly shot that for the first few seconds we genuinely thought it was footage taken by a couple of high school girls tooling around in their classroom. Until, of course, they started back-flipping off buildings, sprinting across roofs and pulling every trick in the ninja book.

Sure, it has almost nothing to do with the product, but we think you’ll agree this is one of the coolest ads around.

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Cool, super-absorbent handkerchief maps keeping Japanese hikers dry and on-course

Cool, super-absorbent handkerchief maps keeping Japanese hikers dry and on-course

There are a few things you’ll want to make sure you have before setting out on a long hike. Proper footwear is a must, for example, as is a sufficient supply of water.

Especially if you’re heading into the mountains of Japan during the summer months, a hand towel is something else you’ll definitely want to have with you. The high humidity means you’ll be working up quite a sweat, and having something to wipe yourself off will go a long way towards making your day outdoors more enjoyable.

Of course, even more so than being drenched in sweat, getting lost is an easy way to ruin your day out. Thankfully there’s now a way to prevent both of those problems with a towel that doubles as a map.

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Little boy comforts scared girl at school, is manlier than your fully grown adult boyfriend

Little boy comforts scared girl at school, is manlier than your fully grown adult boyfriend

In the annals of history, there have been many men who were so cool, they practically defined the word. The kind of guys that were so naturally cool, they didn’t even seem to notice when they were doing something awesome. We’re talking about guys like James Dean, Sam Jackson, Bruce Willis, the classic crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and I guess we’ll begrudgingly add newbies like Ryan Gosling (Just kidding! We mean Marky Mark).

Now we can add this incredibly awesome little boy, who seems to be around five years old. We see him here in this video casually comforting a grieving little girl who is upset about being removed from her mother on what we presume is the first day of school. She even does that adorable kid thing where she tries her best not to cry but it’s not really working, and our heroic little boy just sort of nonchalantly tells her he’s got her back – almost like she’s a fiery explosion that he’s casually walking away from without looking at. That’s how cool this kid is.

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We spend an afternoon in the park with the King of the Monsters at Kurihama’s Godzilla Slide

We spend an afternoon in the park with the King of the Monsters at Kurihama’s Godzilla Slide

Every summer, as part of our effort to see as many brightly colored explosions as possible, my wife and I head to Kurihama in Kanagawa Prefecture to watch the neighborhood’s annual fireworks festival. In the past I always had to work on the day of the event, so we’d arrive just as they started launching the rockets, but this year I had the day off, so my wife suggested heading down early to do a little sightseeing. “We can go to Kurihama Flower World!” she offered, referring to the area’s expansive garden.

Sure, I thought, that might be kind of nice and romantic. I was a little surprised by her enthusiasm, though, since early July isn’t exactly the best time for flower viewing in Japan. It’s right in the gap between when hydrangeas and sunflowers are at their most beautiful, so what exactly did she want to check out there?

“We can see Godzilla,” she explained, which just might be the most convincing argument for going someplace ever.

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Xinjiang policewoman catches bad guys, and the hearts of Chinese net users【Photos】

Xinjiang policewoman catches bad guys, and the hearts of Chinese net users【Photos】

While many anime lovers around the world were going gaga over the release of Sailor Moon’s new series, Chinese internet users were raving over their own upholder of justice, this gorgeous policewoman from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China!

More details about Xinjiang’s heroine after the jump!

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Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

Perfect rainbow appears over Tokyo like an interdimensional portal, no spirits spotted (yet)

While we rarely think about it, the way our atmosphere works is pretty amazing–filtering out all that cosmic radiation and keeping us alive. It also has tons of moisture in it, which, in addition to giving some nifty lightning shows, is also what gives us really cool stuff like sun dogs and rainbows. While it’s nothing special to see a piece of a rainbow or even half of one in the sky after a rainshower, it’s quite another thing to see a full rainbow shimmering in the sky.

But that’s exactly what appeared over Tokyo on Friday, setting Twitter ablaze with photos of the beautiful phenomenon. And because we’re ready for some uplifting fun this weekend, here’s all the photos we could find! Guaranteed to make your day 200% more magical or your leprechaun back.

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Open source robot is waiting for you to make it even more amazing

Open source robot is waiting for you to make it even more amazing

It is not uncommon to hear that many people don’t like bugs. Those tiny, many-legged creatures are the source of our worst nightmares. Robots, on the other hand, are fantastic. Whether they come to us as Furby-sized companions or giant robot protector of the Earth Gundams, they amuse and entertain us to no end. So when we heard of the open source project combining insect-like parts and robotics, we timidly decided to check it out.

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Create your own Sailor Moon heroines with the awesome Sailor Senshi Maker

Create your own Sailor Moon heroines with the awesome Sailor Senshi Maker

With the recent premier of Sailor Moon Crystal, anime’s most famous magical girl is back in action. But while the basic premise is largely the same as it’s always been (klutzy girl and her friends team up to fight evil while wearing pleated skirts), the characters look noticeably different than they did in the previous anime from 1992, as we recently saw in a side-by-side comparison.

The new artwork does look a lot closer to creator Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga, but not everyone is taken with the extremely willowy proportions and super-long shins of Crystal’s character designs. Thankfully, if you’re one of those left cold by the new look, you can always crank out a few Sailor Scouts of your own instead, with the awesome Sailor Senshi Maker.

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Tokyo’s giant Gundam statue scheduled to get upgrade and start moving in 2019

Tokyo’s giant Gundam statue scheduled to get upgrade and start moving in 2019

I love Tokyo’s awesome, full-scale statue of Gundam as much as anybody. I try to at least stop by and say hello to Japan’s most famous giant robot whenever I’m in Odaiba, and when time permits, I’m happy to sip a beer or munch on a pretzel from the adjacent shopping center as I stare up at the 18-meter (59-foot) tall mecha.

As I mentioned before, though, it has always seemed a little ironic that the monument is stationary. After all, the series is called Mobile Suit Gundam. Shouldn’t he be moving?

Actually, in a few years, he just might.

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Oklahoma farmer loses his cellphone in 140 tons of grain — 9 months later gets a call from Japan

Oklahoma farmer loses his cellphone in 140 tons of grain — 9 months later gets a call from Japan

Kevin Whitney of Chickasha, Oklahoma, was working on his farm last October when his iPhone fell out of his shirt pocket and up a grain elevator, where it was deposited into a pit containing 280,000 pounds of grain.

“I never expected to see that phone again,” he told KFOR-TV. It was a reasonable conclusion.

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Feeling down? Kyoto’s Tachibana High marching band is here to brighten your day 【Video】

Feeling down? Kyoto’s Tachibana High marching band is here to brighten your day 【Video】

Since it served as Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years, the city of Kyoto has a strong connection with traditional arts such as Nihon buyo dance and the tea ceremony. We’re sure you could also find a number of students living in Kyoto who, once their classes are over for the day, make beautiful music with the koto, Japan’s most refined indigenous stringed instrument.

Things are a little more bombastic at Kyoto’s Tachibana High School, though. Tachibana is home to one of the country’s most talented marching band programs, and the school’s musicians have made performances at Disney theme parks not only in Japan, but in America too, as seen in this energizing videos.

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All-black chicken is the second most metal bird you’ll ever see

All-black chicken is the second most metal bird you’ll ever see

There’s something about the color black that gets people all kinds of excited. In many countries, it’s associated with bad omens, mystery, the supernatural, and even magic. But in the West, it’s most commonly associated with one thing only: METAL.

And so it is that in the eyes of Indonesians, the Ayam Cemani is a prized breed of pitch-black chicken that probably portends good luck or something, but to the Western eye, it’s the second most metal bird we’ve ever seen.

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