This autumn’s “Sunset Panda” endangered by cloud cover, still pulls in the crowds 【Video】

Two days each year, once in the autumn and again in spring, the setting sun passes behind an NTT antenna tower in the Taruyamachi area of Akashi City, Hyogo. Due to the arrangement of dishes and other receivers, as the sun moves behind them, for the briefest of moments the face of a giant cartoon panda appears, like some benevolent forest god looking down on the town below.

This autumn, on 12 October at 5:28pm, people all over Akashi City gathered to witness the biannual moment of celestial cuteness—an event which has come to be known as the Sunset Panda. However, with cloudy skies and light drizzle it became unclear whether the roly-poly sun bear would come out to play this time…

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Roadside Station Ranking for 2015 is in, find out where you will be driving to in Japan

When traveling in Japan, there are a number of quick and easy ways to see the whole country. You can take the Shinkansen, Japan’s bullet train that excels at speed and comfort. There are also a number of budget airlines including Peach, Air Asia, and Skymark Airlines that can make your trip quicker, but force you to sacrifice some amenities for a lower cost.

But if you have the time, there is no better way to travel around Japan than by hitting the open roads. Just like the US, there are many quirky best-kept secrets accessible only by car that are worth visiting. Some of the best places that really connect you with the locals are the roadside rest stops called Michi no Eki (literally “roadside stations“) that are perfect for taking a toilet or sleeping break, but are also hubs for local food, crafts and history.

Want to find the best roadside stations to visit? The travel website Trip Advisor has assembled a list of the best Michi no Eki for 2015, so gas up the car, it’s time for a road trip.

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World’s smallest dinosaur egg just discovered in Hyogo Prefecture

Everyone has got dinosaurs on their mind at the moment since most of the world is going crazy for Jurassic World. The exception to this is of course, Japan who can’t watch the movie until August 5. (Why Japanese movie people? Why?!?!) Not to be left out of the giant lizard game, officials in Hyogo Prefecture have confirmed the discovery of a brand new dinosaur egg. By analyzing the fossil, it is estimated that this new egg is the world’s smallest dinosaur egg ever. That’s a gigantic discovery of the tiniest kind.

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The UFO catcher that will make you laugh and cry – the Onion Crane Game!

UFO catchers, or crane games, are a common sight at game arcades not just in Japan, but in various parts of the world as well. We’re sure you’ve come across the typical kind of machine loaded with soft toys, anime figurines or snacks, or even the occasional rare prize of live pufferfish.

It goes without saying that the more valuable the prize is, the more difficult it would be to get a drop. Sometimes it takes so many tries to get even close to winning something, and when you just miss by that tiny bit, it really makes you want to cry. There is one special machine, however, that will really make you cry, especially if you manage to catch one of the prizes! Check out this one of a kind Tamanegi UFO Catcher!

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“Pink Pussy” up for sale in Hyogo Prefecture

While perusing Japanese restaurant website Tabelog recently, I came across a little cafe in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, called Pink Pussy. Quite what it was I don’t know, but something about the place really appealed to me so I hopped on a train over there. It was a bit of a journey but I’ve traveled farther to get some, and you can’t put a price on a good cup of coffee.

However, when I arrived I was shocked to find that Pink Pussy had been put up for sale.

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Hyogo town scares children away with mechanical kappa in park’s pond

The town of Fukusaki in Hyogo Prefecture has taken a rather unusual direction when it comes to public art. Namely, the town spent roughly 3 million yen (US$25,000) to install a red, mechanical kappa in the small pond at Tsujikawayama Park (辻川山公園). The strange fixture has become a local attraction, and is scary-looking enough to make children cry!

Just what could have driven the town to install such a creepy mechanical model?

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Nation alerted to man asking where the nearest bathroom is

Whenever a suspicious person is reported to the police it gets up loaded to the Zenkoku no Anzen/Anshin Mail (National Safety/Security Mail) website accessible anywhere in Japan. However, every once in a while a “suspicious person” added seems suspiciously not suspicious.

Such is the case of a student who was approached by a middle-aged man and forced to go to the police after being asked “Where is a bathroom?”

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No grown-ups allowed! Chef with a very sweet motive opens a kids-only sweets shop

Children in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture currently have good reason to celebrate, as a huge new sweets shop officially opened in their town on December 7. But the news gets even sweeter: only kids in sixth grade or younger are allowed inside! Sounds like any child’s wildest fantasy come true, right? Parents must wait outside (and no doubt prepare themselves for the inevitable sugar-high antics to come) while their children explore the hidden wonders within.

Join us after the jump for a rare glimpse inside the shop and read what inspired the owner to open it in the first place.

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Man with Dachshund Exposes Wiener (the privates not the dog), Still at Large (the man not the wiener)

Thanks to Hyogo Prefecture’s “Security Net” the public can easily access reports of crime occurring in their communities as it is reported. Earlier it had alerted local residents to a suspicious person resembling and acting like a motorcycle cop.

Now an odd case of indecent exposure involving a middle-aged man, school girl and a dachshund had occurred in Hamanomiya Park in Kakogawa city.

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The Japanese version of the popular travel information site Trip Adviser recently published a list of the best factory tours in Japan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the nation’s most popular exports makes it to number one. Read More

Japan’s World Heritages Fly Well Under Radar

Did you know that Japan has 16 locations on the list of UNESCO World Heritages? Could you name them all with any sum of money on the line?

Survey Research Center, Co. Ltd. conducted a survey that showed that most people could not. When asked whether they were interested in Japan’s world heritages, 67.8% of those surveyed responded affirmatively. However, only 4% of respondents knew all 16 Japanese sites.

See how many you can name before looking at the list below:

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