health

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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Study shows broccoli sprouts may regrow hair, and not just on Chia Heads

Study shows broccoli sprouts may regrow hair, and not just on Chia Heads

Whoever coined the phrase “Vanity, thy name is woman,” clearly was not a balding man. From implants to Rogaine, men (and some women) with thinning hair are willing to pay a lot of money to keep their cranium covered. A recent study suggest they might be better off making a trip to the greengrocer to return their locks to lusciousness.

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“Diet with Your Girlfriend” app lets you do the exact opposite of that

“Diet with Your Girlfriend” app lets you do the exact opposite of that

So Japanese dudes dating digital anime girls has been a big thing in the western media lately because “OMG weird Japan!!,” but if there’s one thing the news stories get right it’s that there are a whole lot of “digital girlfriend” apps available for a very specific type of person.

One such app hopes to encourage users to slim down by dieting with their digital girlfriend – the idea being that the more you diet, the more she diets, and the slimmer and more attractive she gets. Never mind that some people don’t actually adhere to those cliched classical standards of beauty and might actually prefer a girlfriend that isn’t horrifically skinny (and may, themselves, not actually want to be horrifically skinny); the developers made a far more glaring error in coding the game to allow players to do the exact opposite of what the game’s title suggests.

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Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

There are plenty of Japanese foods that meet little to no resistance on the Western palate. Soba noodles and beef bowls tend to go down easily for new arrivals, and while the weirdness factor may take some time to get over, not too many people have complaints about the flavor of things like raw fish and cod roe.

There is, however, one hurdle in Japanese gastronomic assimilation that is so high that some people never clear it: natto, or fermented soybeans. Recently, we took on the notoriously challenging (and smelly) natto with the help of a powerful ally, honey.

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Tottori University researchers discover a simple way to possibly cure all forms of cancer

Tottori University researchers discover a simple way to possibly cure all forms of cancer

Alright, it doesn’t look so simple from the above image, but on 25 January, Tottori University announced that researchers have found a method to successfully transform a cancerous tumor into non-threatening tissue. Although the research that went into it is incredibly complicated, the result is a single molecule that may be able to universally reverse cancerous cells in a relatively brief amount of time.

The announcement doesn’t hold back its enthusiasm either, proclaiming that from this discovery “the dream of the eradication of cancer is at hand.”

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9 things we know about Nintendo’s plans for the near future following today’s conference

9 things we know about Nintendo’s plans for the near future following today’s conference

It’s been a tough couple of years for Nintendo. While the 3DS continues to sell well and gamers the world over salivate like Pavlov’s dog every time they are drip-fed another snippet of information about the forthcoming Smash Bros. games, Wii U sales are dismal, and even Super Mario 3D World, which critics judged to be one of the greatest Mario outings of all time, was met with comparatively little fanfare from consumers.

Today, Nintendo’s company president Satoru Iwata made a number of announcements, hinting at new hardware that would focus on “health and welfare”, tapping into mobile gaming, giving solid launch dates for upcoming titles, and announcing the decision to bring Nintendo DS games to the Wii U. Here’s what we know so far, in one handy list!

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Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

I was on the subway one morning during one of my very first trips to Tokyo when I spotted two unaccompanied elementary school-age girls riding through downtown together. How could two kids who weren’t old enough to drink even a sip of coffee without freaking out be traversing the country’s densest urban center all by themselves?

In Japan, though, very young kids commuting to school without any kind of adult supervision isn’t anything unusual, and as such no one paid the two unaccompanied tykes any mind.

Likewise, sometimes things that seem like the most natural way of raising kids to parents overseas might seem totally bizarre to Japanese adults, as this collection of reactions to parenting around the world by Japanese experts and expats shows.

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Super limber Chinese lady shows world insane stretching routine【video】

Super limber Chinese lady shows world insane stretching routine【video】

Have you made that New Year’s resolution to be healthier but just can’t seem to make the commitment to work out? Is the only flexible thing in your life the elastic band around your sweatpants after you gorge yourself on cake? We think we can motivate you into a more active lifestyle by seeing a Chinese lady in her 50s doing her morning stretching routine that will be sure to shame you into eating healthier and exercising more!

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Beauty is pain: A journey through one South Korean woman’s plastic surgery 【Photos】

Beauty is pain: A journey through one South Korean woman’s plastic surgery 【Photos】

If you have been paying attention to South Korean pop culture, then you are probably already aware of the huge popularity of plastic surgery as evident by some startling before-and-after images. Plastic surgery is fast becoming as Korean as kimchi, soju or Samsung as one in five women there admit to going under the knife in the name of beauty.

But while seeing before-and-after images demonstrate a surgeon’s skill, you may not be seeing the long and probably very painful process that goes on in between the two pictures. A Korean woman recently posted the many stages of her recovery after plastic surgery, which provides a much-needed context about the lengths people go for the sake of beauty. Click below to see how she looked while her body healed from the procedure!

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Korean woman goes under the knife 120 times in pursuit of perfection

Korean woman goes under the knife 120 times in pursuit of perfection

We’ve already covered South Korea’s attitudes about plastic surgery; basically, that it’s considered at worst a necessary evil for some folks to get ahead in life.

That cultural attitude has led the country to be widely considered the world cosmetic surgery capital, and has even led a handful, like this obsessed woman, to spend years of their lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars artificially perfecting their appearance.

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Twitpics show sumo wrestlers getting health checks… in spaaaaaaace!

Twitpics show sumo wrestlers getting health checks… in spaaaaaaace!

Now here’s something you don’t see every day – a bunch of enormous men in their underpants sitting in fiberglass pods that look like something NASA might fire out of a space shuttle.

Shared on Twitter earlier today by the Japan Sumo Association, these photos show some of the sumo community’s most famous faces attending a health check session prior to a series of upcoming bouts. They’re also kind of hilarious.

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Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Even though tap water in Tokyo is perfectly safe to drink, and in most cases indistinguishable from bottled water, the metropolitan government is concerned about the bad rap it gets from citizens who will not give it a try. In October, the Bureau of Waterworks, charged with providing clean and tasty water for Japan’s largest metropolitan area, wrapped up a 25-year-long project to connect the majority of Tokyo residents to great-tasting and specially treated water from the Tone River system.

According to an NHK article, the government agency wants to get the word out that their water is just as good as any store-bought bottled water and has asked 700 private citizens all over Tokyo to become “water monitors” and test their home’s tap water for minerals and judge its quality.

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Fast and easy toilet break health check that might save your life

Fast and easy toilet break health check that might save your life

This is totally random, but if anyone ever told you that their pee is purple, they’re outright liars. According to the medical experts at the Cleveland Clinic, it’s possible to have reddish, brownish or even green pee (though neither of these are healthy pee colors), but nope, definitely not purple.

Also, did we mention that the hue of your piddle actually gives you a hint on your current health condition? Here’s a super easy health check that will cost you no money, and barely any time. So go ahead and empty your bladder, then check against the color guide after the jump!

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Rohto to release eye drops containing sesame oil, netizens ask “why not Tabasco sauce?”

Rohto to release eye drops containing sesame oil, netizens ask “why not Tabasco sauce?”

On 21 November, Japanese pharmaceutical company Rohto announced they will be releasing a line of eye drops which promise 60 percent the viscosity of regular drops. To retain the eyes tears and keep them moist longer, Rohto uses a combination of hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and sesame oil.

That last ingredient in particular, which is generally used in Asian cooking for its notably bold taste, has caught the attention of netizens in Japan drawing comments such as “My eyes! My eyes!”

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Time to start potty training! Chinese speculators buying up diapers in Japan

Time to start potty training! Chinese speculators buying up diapers in Japan

Despite policies designed to keep the birth rate in check, China remains the most populous nation on the planet. That many people means a lot of new babies every year, and the digestive tracts of babies in China have as busy a schedule as infants anywhere.

What we’re trying to say is that China has to deal with mountains of baby poop every day. And since some Chinese parents have a penchant for keeping their kids dry with Japanese diapers, consumers in Japan have been reporting shortages of Japanese brand Merries, as Chinese speculators in Japan buy up the local stock.

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Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

Why you should eat wasabi with your sushi – the secrets behind 10 Japanese food pairings

Traditions are taken very seriously in Japan, and one of the most noticeable examples is Japanese food. Certain foods and seasonings are always paired together, and while it may be tempting to dismiss this as just another example of the cultural homogeneity of an island nation, in several cases there are legitimate health benefits to these standard combinations.

Following are 10 culinary collaborations that won’t just fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, but leave you a little healthier, too.

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Asian airline offers super carb in-flight meal for men

Asian airline offers super carb in-flight meal for men

We’ve all got bizarre excuses for cheating on a diet. You know, like how donut holes don’t count because they technically don’t exist? And we all know ice cream is mostly air anyway. Now, men, at least, are going to have to add a new ludicrous excuse: “Certainly calories don’t count if you eat them in midair.”

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Hugvie, the blobular doll that combines hugs and phone calls, might actually help reduce stress

Hugvie, the blobular doll that combines hugs and phone calls, might actually help reduce stress

Regular readers will no doubt recall the Telenoid R1, the tactile doll shaped like a giant human foetus that when controlled via remote computer almost appears to be alive. Using this intriguing yet somewhat disturbing technology, creator and Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro went on to produce Hugvie, a soft, pared-down version of the doll that has a slot for a smartphone in its head, enabling users to cuddle and chat at once while the doll’s internal vibrators simulate the caller’s heartbeat based on their tone and the volume of their voice.

As fun and quirky as the pillow was, few ever thought it could be beneficial to users’ health, but recent research suggests that cuddling up with one of these blobs while chatting on the phone could actually help reduce stress and make us feel more content.

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