health

Miso soup could help protect against cancer, research suggests

Miso soup could help protect against cancer, research suggests

Miso soup is a staple of the traditional Japanese diet and has long been anecdotally connected with Japanese people’s famously long life expectancy. Now, research has linked consumption of miso soup with a reduced risk of stomach and breast cancer.

Japan’s cancer rates are low compared to western countries, but the country’s relatively high rates of stomach cancer have often been blamed on the high sodium content of the traditional Japanese diet. However, research suggests that miso, the fermented soybean paste which makes the base of miso soup and many other Japanese dishes, could actually counter-act the harmful effects of sodium consumption and even smoking.

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Healthy eating just got better with cupcake wrappers made from seaweed

Healthy eating just got better with cupcake wrappers made from seaweed

If you’re a fan of obento, those delicious looking home-made Japanese lunches full of colour and variety, then you’re going to love this product from Japan: edible cupcake wrappers made from seaweed.

Traditionally, these little wrappers are made from paper or plastic and while they’re great for keeping flavours separate in your lunch box, the daily waste involved isn’t really that great for the environment. Now with this edible variety on the market, you can look forward to taking home an empty lunch box at the end of the day and rest easy knowing you’ve left nature unharmed. Plus, if this idea spills over to the cupcake world, it looks like we could soon be having our cake and eating its wrapper too!

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How to enjoy wasabi painlessly, or at least as painlessly as possible

How to enjoy wasabi painlessly, or at least as painlessly as possible

A few months ago we mentioned the various health benefits a daily dose of the Japanese condiment wasabi has to offer. Afterwards, I was intrigued by the potential anti-aging and cancer preventing effects that five grams a day could bring.

However, eating that much wasabi every day is easier said than done. As small as it is, that little ball can pack quite a punch if eaten all at once. Other more traditional uses of wasabi like on sushi are small and require you to eat a lot every day.

Luckily, there actually are quite a few ways to try and enjoy wasabi without feeling its notorious sting. If you can get past that, then you can enjoy what a delicious root it truly is.

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We put the internet’s “techniques for emptying your bladder with morning wood” to the test

We put the internet’s “techniques for emptying your bladder with morning wood” to the test

Ladies, you might want to cover your eyes for this one, ’cause this piece is going to get a little, um… messy.

Guys know all too well how awkward it can be to wake up with what is not-so-delicately referred to as “morning wood;” That is, a big honkin’ erection first thing in the morning for no apparent reason. Now, if you’re getting your standard eight hours of sleep, odds are – man or woman – you’re also going to have an urge to pee, but morning wood complicates this significantly: How on earth do you empty your bladder while pitching an underpants tent?

A series of hilarious diagrams outlining the possible methods a man may use to tackle this situation recently appeared online. The Japanese arm of our site thought these were frankly the best thing ever, but wondered whether they could really be applied to real life, so with a willing model and a camera, headed into the bathroom to give the poses – from “the Lunge” to “the Superman” – a try.

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Lotus root: the enlightened way to knock out hay fever

Lotus root: the enlightened way to knock out hay fever

Most of my early trips to Japan involved visiting my brother, back when he was living in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture. One day while waiting for a train at the station, I passed the time by staring out at one of the many lotus farms the town is known for.

“Ah, Japan!” I thought as the plants swayed almost hypnotically in the hot summer breeze. “So appreciative of the beauty of nature!” The lotus must be so highly prized that it’s economically worthwhile to use large tracts of what little arable land the country has to cultivate and sell the flowers, I concluded.

I found out later that I was only half right. While it is true that Japan tends to get more excited about blossoming flora than other nations, all those lotuses weren’t being grown for aesthetic reasons. Lotus root, called renkon in Japanese, is edible, and not only is it delicious, it can also help you cope with one of the absolute worst parts of life in Japan: hay fever.

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Did woman’s love of papayas and Chinese desserts make her breasts dangerously large?

Did woman’s love of papayas and Chinese desserts make her breasts dangerously large?

If we surmise that the existence of breast augmentation surgery proves that at least some women out there want to increase their cup size, then add to this set every man (and zombie) on the planet, we can conclude that at any given moment, slightly over half of the world’s adult population is wishing women had bigger breasts.

However, many women are apprehensive of the risks involved with surgery or shady supplements that promise to increase breast-size. Thankfully, one woman in China may have found a more natural way to make your bust more bounteous. Unfortunately, at least one doctor says it may have been so effective it landed her in the hospital.

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New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

As part of a society where industriousness is prized above just about anything else, many people in Japan feel like they could use a boost in the middle of the day. Austrian Red Bull and American Monster have booth made headways into the Japanese market, but this month sees a new entry to the energy drink battleground with the indigenous Samuride, which promises to invigorate you with ingredients used by Japan’s famed warriors.

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Miraculous “cancer-curing” Japanese buckets selling like hotcakes in China

Miraculous “cancer-curing” Japanese buckets selling like hotcakes in China

It’s no secret that Japanese craftsmanship is some of the best out there. Manufacturing companies spare no expense to ensure their products satisfy customer expectations and last a lifetime.

But did you know that some Japanese companies are apparently taking customer service to the next level by injecting cancer-curing agents into a variety of products, even the lowly plastic garbage pail? Neither did we, until we found said buckets selling for up to US$100 on the Chinese Internet retail site Taobao. Confused and intrigued, we clicked on…

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Gargling to prevent colds – Just an old Japanese wives’ tale?

Gargling to prevent colds – Just an old Japanese wives’ tale?

When I was a college student doing homestay in Tokyo, I mentioned to my host mother one day that some if my classmates had been passing a cold around, and I hoped I wouldn’t catch it too. “Oh, you should gargle,” she told me.

I was a little skeptic, and not just because she had previously told me that there was a pressure point in my ring finger that would make me feel warm during the winter, which she demonstrated by squeezing it with all her might (it worked in the sense that pain produces a sensation similar to heat). I’d never heard of the theory that just gargling, even with ordinary tap water, would keep you from catching a cold, but it turns out this is a pretty common belief in Japan, which some researchers say is scientifically sound.

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Is cola-flavored soy milk the answer to our prayers? We find out

Is cola-flavored soy milk the answer to our prayers? We find out

A while back, food conglomerate Kibun and soy giant Kikkoman announced a couple new flavors for their popular Tonyu Inryo line of soy milk. In and of itself, this wasn’t too surprising, as new varieties are regularly swapped in and out of the Tonyu Inryo lineup.

One of the new flavors caught the eye of our junk food loving team, though: healthy cola. Ordinarily, the words “healthy” and “cola” are in such direct opposition that we expected the package to be contain a paradox-induced black hole, or to at least be completely empty inside. To our surprise, though, Kibun was indeed able to develop its healthy cola soy milk, and we wasted no time in trying it.

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How to get free healthcare in Japan without insurance

How to get free healthcare in Japan without insurance

Brace yourselves, Republicans and Libertarians: it turns out Japan’s social safety net provides free healthcare to people that need medical attention but have no money or insurance. It’s like Obamacare’s angry, ‘roided-up samurai cousin.

That’s because there’s a somewhat vaguely-worded provision in Japanese law that states the government is obligated to provide care for those with “troubled livelihoods,” at low or no cost, regardless of insurance coverage. “Troubled livelihood” is kind of a broad definition, which ensures that those without the means to pay for medical treatment – even if they aren’t necessarily poor, homeless or unable to work - can still see a doctor.

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Seven reasons to eat sushi (other than because it tastes great)

Seven reasons to eat sushi (other than because it tastes great)

Sushi already has a lot going for it. It’s tasty, one of the quickest, most easily accessible contact points for Japanese culture, and with its extensive use of raw fish, a boon for those who can’t cook anything without burning it.

Even better, almost every ingredient that goes into or is traditionally eaten alongside sushi is bursting with health benefits, right down to the cup of green tea of green tea that generally caps off the meal.

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Health Tip: Drinking live pig’s blood may lead to worms in your brain

Health Tip: Drinking live pig’s blood may lead to worms in your brain

I’m sure we can all agree that at the end of a long workday there’s nothing better than enjoying a nice glass of pig’s blood. I don’t mean that bottled crap you buy in the supermarket, chocked full of additives and high fructose corn syrup. I’m talking about the real-deal piping hot blood straight from a live pig.

However, before you go ahead and take a nice drink, take heed. As one young man from Guangxi, China learned, drinking too much live pig’s blood (i.e. any) can actually be bad for your health.

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Cover up out there! 21 dead in Japan from virus spread by mites

Cover up out there! 21 dead in Japan from virus spread by mites

In general, Japan has very few animals that’ll kill you, as most local wildlife falls outside the three danger areas that trained zoologists refer to technically as poisonous, gigantic, and fangy.

However, you only need to kill a man once to show him you mean business. A check mark in any one of those boxes is cause for concern, which is why authorities in Japan are warning people about deadly poisonous mites that’ve been found in the country.

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Seoul anti-suicide initiative backfires, deaths increase by more than six times

Seoul anti-suicide initiative backfires, deaths increase by more than six times

Like many of the world’s largest and oldest metropolises, Seoul owes part of its development to its location on the banks of a river. In the case of the Korean capital, being situated along the Han River contributed to the flow of goods and resources necessary for a large community centuries before the development of trains or automobiles.

The Han River still flows through Seoul today, where the body of water is crossed by the Mapo Bridge. But while the bridge was built with the purpose of serving as a transit artery, it’s also been darkly co-opted by those looking for a place to end their own lives, and the site sees more suicides than almost any other in Korea. Unfortunately, a public service campaign looking to reverse the tragic trend has had the opposite effect, with suicides at Mapo Bridge increasing more than sixfold since the campaign began.

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Chinese classroom introduces roller coaster-style desks, hopes to protect kids’ eyesight

Chinese classroom introduces roller coaster-style desks, hopes to protect kids’ eyesight

What’s this strange contraption? Perhaps a headrest, or some kind of anti-cheating device? Maybe it’s something for the kids to hold on to when English grammar classes get too exciting to bear!?

Actually, this classroom has been fitted with these specially-designed desks as a measure of preserving their kids’ precious eyesight.

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? Part 2: Men’s edition

Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? Part 2: Men’s edition

We recently ran down a number of reasons why so many people in Japan will strap on a surgical mask even if they aren’t feeling sick. One of the most common reasons is that for women, slipping on a mask is less of a hassle then carefully applying makeup, but the cultural phenomena of perfectly healthy Japanese wearing masks isn’t strictly a female thing.

Today, we present the testosterone-packed follow-up to our previous report, as we explore why healthy Japanese men wear masks.

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons

Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons

Like kimono and T-shirts with English writing (sometimes vulgar, sometimes comical, always unintelligible), the number of people you’ll see in Japan wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Sure, Japan is a hard working society, and the spread of productivity-sapping sickness is always a concern at schools and workplaces, but that doesn’t seem like reason enough for the proliferation of facial coverings that sometimes has Tokyo offices looking more like an operating room.

Health concerns are only part of the equation, though, as recent studies have revealed multiple reasons people in Japan wear masks that have nothing to do with hygiene.

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Young man collapses a lung from yawning too hard, and so can you

Young man collapses a lung from yawning too hard, and so can you

It’s a Monday and you might find yourself struggling to get back into work mode from the weekend. Sitting in your workspace you feel the urge to stretch your mouth into a satisfying yawn.

If you happen to be a tall thin man in young adulthood, STOP! That innocent little stretch might turn into something much more painful and kind of gross. Such and incident happened to a 26-year-old Chinese man last month.

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Manga legend Shigeru Mizuki’s longevity seems to come from lots of burgers and desserts

Manga legend Shigeru Mizuki’s longevity seems to come from lots of burgers and desserts

Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan’s most loved comic artists, having created the manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro in 1959. Although the serial ended after a 10-year run, the light-hearted story about the traditional Japanese spirits called yokai still has a strong following today, thanks to multiple animated and live-action adaptations premiering as recently as 2008.

Mizuki isn’t resting on his laurels either, despite turning 92 next month. He started a new manga series just last December, and the energetic nonagenarian has recently released a book cataloguing the eating habits that have resulted in his long life. So what does his diet consist of? A surprisingly large amount of junk food.

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