nature

Japan’s Kizuro Village is a hidden natural beauty and feng shui power spot

On the border between Wakayama and Mie prefectures, nature has created a fantastical terrain. The secluded Kizuro Village is encircled by a river and pebble beaches, turning it into a half-island paradise that’s also abundant in good qi.

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Crimson-covered Hitachi Seaside Park: Beautiful, awesome, and easy to get to from Tokyo【Photos】

Last year, we sat amazed as we looked at pictures of Hitachi Seaside Park, where every autumn a hill covered in kochia shrubs turns a dazzling shade of crimson.

Then we sat crying as a storm on the day we’d planned to visit the park washed out our travel plans.

After 12 long months of moping, this week we finally got a second chance, and this time the weather was perfect. Interested in making the trip for yourself? Read on and we’ll tell you how.

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Three’s a crowd as multiple waterspouts form above Chinese lake in awesome video

As the largest lake in a very large country, you’d probably imagine that China’s Qinghai Lake is pretty big, and with a surface area of over 4,100 square kilometers (1,583 square miles), you’d be right. But when numbers start getting that huge, it can be hard to really grasp their scale.

So just how big is Qinghai Lake? Well, you could say it’s twice the size of the 23 wards of central Tokyo. Or, to put it in more dramatic terms, it’s big enough to easily hold three gigantic water spouts at the same time.

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Fukuoka’s “Wisteria Tunnel” delights visitors with pretty pastel petals

Anyone who has visited Japan during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season will definitely agree –  they’ve got some really gorgeous flowers over there. But Japan’s not all sakura, you know! In fact, there’s a veritable cornucopia of beautiful blooms to appreciate at different times of the year. If you’re too impatient for the springtime sakura, you can get a head start by checking out the plum blossoms that start to peek out during the tail-end of winter. And if you’re still not satisfied after feasting your eyes on the sakura itself (or feasting on snacks during hanami, as the case may be), why not plan a summer visit to the “Wisteria Tunnel” located in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture?

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Think you’ve had every type of tempura? Not until you’ve eaten deep-fried maple leaves

Autumn is a great time of year in Japan. The sticky humidity of summer is gone, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy spending time outdoors. Best of all, there’s the spectacular show of the leaves changing to vivid reds and dazzling yellows.

For me though, fall comes with one major drawback, which is that for the whole season, it seems like the mixed tempura set at every restaurant I go to is packed with mushrooms. If you’re a fan of Japan’s many types of edible fungi, this is a major plus, but if you can’t stand the things, you might be feeling a little left-out.

Take heart, though, because there’s still a way to form a deep-fried connection to autumn with tempura maple leaves.

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Time zone quirk lets expat in Japan share opposite side of the sunset with parents in U.S.

For expats in Japan, one thing that takes some serious getting used to is the time difference. With several time zones’ worth of ocean separating Japan and the U.S., for example, a quick calculation of the local time is always a necessity before calling home. Even then, there’s often a twinge of sadness that comes from that vague disconnect of knowing that it might be afternoon where you are, but the middle of the night where the rest of your family is.

But while the times on the clock might never match between Japan and Florida, an American in Japan discovered that there’s one time a day when things are close enough.

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Awesome treehouse café in Yokohama satisfies our longing for bagels, beer, and nature

Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.

But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.

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Invoice puts Japanese company in running for greenest in Japan, at least as far as names go

Whereas a lot of last names in English come from professions, such as Smith, Hunter, and Baker, you don’t find a lot of work-related ones in Japan. Generally, Japanese family names have some sort of connection to the natural environment, such as Ogawa (“Small River”), Yamada (“Mountain Field”), or Takeoka (“Bamboo Hill”).

You could debate whether or not this is the result of a deep-rooted Japanese respect for nature, or simply that for centuries the feudal system forced the vast majority of the population into agriculture. Regardless of the reason, there’s no denying the linguistic phenomenon, as proven by the signatures on this invoice from what appears to be the most ecologically oriented company in Japan, at least in terms of names.

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Why does Japan have so many overhead power lines?

Something many visitors to Japan notice is the abundance of overhead power lines. Whether you’re in the suburbs, city center, or even rural communities, it’s rare to look up at the sky or towards the horizon without the view being crisscrossed by thick, black cables.

So why does Japan have so many above-ground power grids when so many other countries have gone subterranean? The easy answer is cost, but there’re also some purported advantages to stringing cables up on poles, and the country hasn’t quite reached a consensus on which is the better option.

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Dear Hikers: Stop pooping on Mt. Fuji if you want it to keep its UNESCO status

There are a few things people hope to find while hiking to the top of Mt. Fuji. Almost everyone looks forward to the breathtaking vistas. Others hope for the added bonus of comradery with their fellow hikers. Some may even expect to gain some insight into the Japanese spirit or national character by reaching the country’s highest peak.

But you know what no one goes to Mt. Fuji for an eyeful of? Feces. Unfortunately, visitors are becoming more and more likely to run across a pile of poo on the mountain, and that’s not only costing Mt. Fuji some of its cultural luster, it might also mean the end of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

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Popular tourist spot Kegon Falls turned up to MAX after recent typhoon

The photo above is the popular sightseeing destination of Kegon Falls in Nikko. At 97 meters high (318 ft), it is one of the three highest falls in Japan and also one of the so-called “Eight Views”, said to exemplify Japan and its culture. But the photo above is Kegon on a normal day.

With Japan recently taking a beating and a whole lotta rain from the slow-moving Typhoon Halong, Kegon looks a little different now.

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A tree in India is bigger than the average Wal-Mart

It may sound hard to believe, but the world’s widest tree, located near Kolkata, India, is bigger than the average Wal-Mart.

The gigantic Banyan tree may look like a forest from far away, but it’s actually comprised of a myriad of aerial roots that cover 3.5 square acres of land, which equals roughly 156,000 square feet, or 14,400 square meters.

Compare that to data from the most recent unit count and square footage report from Wal-Mart, which says that the average store size (that’s not a Supercenter) is just under 105,000 square feet or 9,750 square meters.

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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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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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Stunning Photos Of The Supermoon

On Saturday night, July 12, you may have noticed that the moon looked unusually large.

That’s because it was the “supermoon,” which happens when two phenomenon occur at the same time: the full moon and the “perigee moon.” The perigee moon is when the moon passes closest to earth causing it to look about 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual. It looks even larger when it hangs low over the horizon, as it does when it is rising, for reasons scientists can’t completely explain.

Don’t worry if you missed it though. You can catch another supermoon on August 10 and September 9.

Until then, check out our favorite pictures from this past weekend below:

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Japanese giant salamander caught taking a stroll on land

Japan is home to many strange and interesting creatures from freakishly huge wasps to beautifully blue glowing squid, but perhaps one of the oddest is the seldom seen Japanese giant salamander or Ōsanshōuo as it’s called in Japanese.

Although they spend most of their lives underwater, every now and again you might just catch one making the trek onto land as the lucky Twitter user who found this guy did. From this image it might be hard to see exactly how big the Japanese giant salamander can be, but the following picture gives us a better sense of scale.

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The beautiful flowers of Hydrangea Temple: Possibly the best thing about Japan’s rainy season

As much as I look forward to summer every year, I’ll admit it can be a little hard getting excited about the early part of the season in Japan. The humidity rises, mosquitos come out in force (although we’ve got a secret trick for dealing with them), and the weather is rainy enough that going almost a week without seeing the sun isn’t that unusual.

Still, there’s at least one nice part about June in Japan, which is the blooming of the hydrangeas. The bundles of blossoms are blooming right now, and if you’re in the Tokyo area, there’s no better place to see them than at Meigetsuin Temple in Kamakura.

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That’s not a rabbit, that’s Mother Nature’s version of Pikachu (also known as Viscacha)【Photos】

As the end of the week closes in, it’s time to slow things down a bit and unwind. It’s been raining in Tokyo for the past couple of days, and we all know what cool, rainy weather does to us, right? It makes us feel oh so sleepy… like these fluffy… real-life Pikachus…

W-what? Did I just say Pikachu? I mean, Viscacha! Just look at them dozing off on the rocks!

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Hokkaidō’s “Sea of Clouds” Terrace now open, just a 13-minute chairlift ride away! 【Photos】

Nope, the above image isn’t a production still from a live-action version of The Pilot’s Love Song or Zelda: Skyward Sword. Rather, this glorious view can be seen from the popular “Sea of Clouds” (unkai) Terrace on Mount Tomamu, which is entering its ninth year of service.

Such a magnificent vista is generally the sole privilege of determined hikers, but this resort attraction in the heart of Hokkaidō delivers you to it in a mere 13 minutes, and you don’t even need an ounce of upsidasium! Whether you’re a nut for Laputa, a hardcore Bioshock Infinite cosplayer, or just a nature lover like me, you’ve got to check out this unique mountaintop experience.

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Nissan’s endurance racing team combines PlayStation training, hybrid power, crazy design

Most if the time, video games and sports cars are two of the more trivial things in life. That said, sometimes it’s those non-productive luxuries that give us the recharge we need to be industrious in our daily grind. Some people draw energy and inspiration from an afternoon spent with a good book or favorite album, others get it from a few hours working a PS4 controller or rowing through a crisp-shifting gearbox.

Competitive gaming and motorsports are getting another boost in legitimacy this summer, as the first has led to a job for some talented virtual racers, and their team’s car is helping pave the way for cleaner, more efficient engines.

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