But let’s not forget the abundance of crazy, real-life mushrooms in Japan too. One Japanese Twitter user recently stumbled on one so bizarre-looking that he had to post pictures and ask the internet to help him figure out what the heck it was. Just one glimpse will make you see that when it comes to mushrooms, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.
They say spending time on social media rots your brain, but today, just because it was making the rounds on Twitter, I discovered a really neat flower native to both Japan, where I live now, and the States, where I was born. See, who needs to leave the house?
Meet diphylleia grayi, sometimes called the skeleton flower, a humble white woodland blossom that turns transparent when it rains!
There’s something about abandoned buildings, such as Nagasaki’s famed “Battleship Island,” and the ghost skyscraper in Bangkok, that is so creepy and mysterious that we just can’t get enough of them. One Shanghai-based photographer recently journeyed out to the nearby Zhoushan Archipelago to document the remains of a once-prospering fishing village, now abandoned and being consumed by nature.
Why did the chicken cross the road? We don’t know, we don’t speak Chicken. But we do know why the ducks in Kyoto cross the road. To get to the Kamo River!
Don’t be mistaken, we don’t speak Duck either, but that’s what the ducks have been doing for the past decade or so, and this year they’ve completed the procession again with a record number of baby ducks in tow!
What did you accomplish by the time you were 20 years old? Did you answer, “inspired an entire world to get behind your idea to clean the ocean”?
A Dutch engineering phenom has done just that with his project The Ocean Cleanup. In 2016, he and his team will launch a pilot program that will eventually lead them to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that lies between Hawaii and California. However, any idea has to start somewhere, and that somewhere will be Japan.
As Japan gets ready to flip the calendar from May to June, it’s a perfect time to get out of the house and spend some time outdoors. If you’re the sort who hates cold weather, it’s finally warm enough to spend the afternoon outside with no need of a jacket, and if you can’t stand the heat, you’ve only got a few weeks left until the onset of the steamy rainy season and sizzling midsummer weather patterns.
And to sweeten the deal, right now there’s a perfect spot for your sojourn with nature, this breathtaking field of over 15 million flowers in Saitama Prefecture known as the Heavenly Poppies.
Japan and most of the rest of the developed world don’t exactly see eye to eye on whaling. Sure, Japan has a couple of mammal-fishing buddies in Norway and Iceland, but most other nations with a comparable scientific and economic footing take a dim view of Japan’s professedly research-based whaling expeditions, especially in light of how you’re much more likely to come across a restaurant in Japan serving whale meat than a significant biological discovery about whales coming from one of the country’s scientists.
One of the most outspoken opponents has been Australia, which is particularly upset about Japanese whalers hunting the creatures in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, an area much closer to Australia than Japan. Now, though, some Japanese Internet commenters are launching snide jabs right back at their critics from Down Under in regards to the Australian government’s consideration of a plan to kill off a portion of its koala population.
Way at the western tip of Honshu, the main island of Japan, you’ll find the town of Shimonoseki. Shimonoseki is especially famous for its always delicious, naturally poisonous, and occasionally canned blowfish, but fishermen catch all manner of tasty seafood there in the waters off the edge of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Wherever you have boats and coastlines, you’ll also want to put a lighthouse too. But on a recent night the beacon of Shimonoseki’s Tsunoshima lighthouse wasn’t the only thing shining in the darkness, as observers also roughly a dozen mysterious-looking lights in the night sky.
The ocean is full of a massive array of undiscovered species, so scientists are always finding new types of creatures lurking offshore. The circle-making pufferfish discovered in 2013 are one great example of a species mankind only recently encountered for the first time.
But you don’t have to take our word for it — the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) even included it in their 2015 Top Ten New Species list!
You guys, it’s May, so that means you can finally go see the beautiful wisteria tunnel that we told you about last October! If you find yourself anywhere near northern Kyushu or have time for a weekend getaway, head to Fukuoka Prefecture’s Kitakyushu City. If you think we’re exaggerating or doctoring the pictures to make them more beautiful (we’re not), at least trust the opinion of the Japanese Twitter users gushing over the wisteria’s beauty!
Just north-west of Tokyo, in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, there’s a beautiful stretch of greenery known as Totoro’s Forest. Containing fields, hills and rice paddies, this is hallowed ground for any Ghibli fan. Not only is this the actual inspiration for the animated film My Neighbour Totoro, the land itself is so beloved by Studio Ghibli legend Hayao Miyazaki that he’s made a generous donation to protect the area from housing developments, participates in regular volunteer events and is said to take daily walks through the woods.
Now, for two days this spring, you too can take a stroll through Totoro’s magical forest, with a walking event organised by the Totoro no Furusato Foundation. Stopping at a number of scenic locations and covering a distance of 15 km each day, you never know who you might meet during this special event!
Imagine yourself out for a hike. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself; you’re about to crest the top of a pretty tough mountain, the cool spring air on your skin, the wind blowing through your hair, the traffic cones towering above your head.
Wait, back up… Traffic cones?
There’s been a spate of gravity-defying traffic cone sightings throughout Japan, if photos making the rounds on social media are to be believed. But, there may actually be a pretty reasonable explanation for them…
I used to work nights and weekends at my old job, and one particularly unlucky year I was missing all the cherry blossom parties friends were having while I was stuck in the office. I managed to catch a break, though, because right at the tail end of sakura season a girl I knew had a day off that matched up with one of mine, so we decided to go check out the flowers together.
We met at the station, walked down to the river, and the scenery was drop-dead gorgeous, like something out of a travel guide or some trendy Japanese TV drama or anime. After walking down a lantern-lit path lined with cherry trees in full bloom, we bought some snacks from a food stall in a park, sat down, and spent an hour or so soaking up the atmosphere.
It’s weird to think that in just a few days, all those achingly captivating pink petals would fall from their branches and be blown away by the wind. But hey, that’s what makes the sakura so special, right? Their beauty is that much greater because it’s so fleeting, right?
Yeah…I’m not sure I buy that.
This beautiful yet unsettling scene took place in Huizhou City recently as countless little green plants began rapidly sprouting up in the river giving it the appearance of a lush green meadow.
This is actually an annual occurrence in the city and officials are at a crossroads of how to deal with it this plant which may luckily turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
As I sit here writing this, it’s been a solid four days since I’ve seen a patch of blue sky. That’s hard enough on someone who grew up in sun-drenched southern California, but what makes it worse is that right now the cherry blossoms are blooming across Japan, and the week-long forecast of cold and precipitation isn’t what many were hoping for as they made plans to head out and admire the short-lived flowers.
But while sakura in the sun are always preferable to sakura in the rain, once the temperature dips down low enough, the flowers become captivating in a whole new way, as shown in these beautiful photos of cherry blossoms in the snow.
Of all the beautiful sights in Japan, there is nothing quite like cherry blossoms blooming in spring. As soon as the winds of winter end, these tiny buds start growing and cities are filled with various shades of pink. However the cherry blossom season is very short, and just as soon as the sakura have come, they’re falling off the trees in a downpour of petals.
But when these petals fall into a river, or cover a paved street, another magical sight can be enjoyed. Let us show you another way you can enjoy cherry blossoms once they have blown off the tree with breathtaking pictures of hanaikada, cherry blossoms floating atop a river.
In Japan, things that are receiving a lot of love and attention are sometimes described as “shining.” These days, that’s a description you could apply to Mt. Fuji.
After receiving UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2013, Japan has rekindled its love affair with the country’s highest mountain. But just because Mt. Fuji’s star is brighter than usual these days doesn’t mean everyone wants the mountain to be literally shining, as angry online commenters are speaking out against one company’s proposal to light up Mt. Fuji’s summit at night.
Figuring out where to go during your stay in Japan can seem like an insurmountable task. For first-time visitors to the country, there are so many famous places to visit that the task of deciding becomes overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’ve been living in Japan for a while, you’re probably tired of all the crowded, touristy places and would like to go somewhere off-the-beaten path.
To help out our readers who are struggling with this internal dilemma, we’ve asked three reporters from our Japanese-language RocketNews24 team to share with us the top three places in Japan they’d definitely like to visit again someday. These three have had ample opportunities to travel to various places around the country and experience the local scenes in the name of eclectic journalism, so you can think of them as seasoned experts on the matter. Let’s see what little-known travel recommendations they have waiting for us!
There’s a widespread belief in Japan that if you want to achieve educational or economic success, you come to Tokyo. As a matter of fact, it’s such a common move that Japanese even has a verb for it, joukyou, or to “move on up to the capital.”
But for some people, always-lively Tokyo is just too bustling. It’s not just the elderly who feel the appeal of a rustic lifestyle, either. Even some residents in their 20s find themselves wanting to move away from the constant hum of the big city, and a recent survey reveals the top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyoites would like to move to.
If I told you there’s a place in Tokyo Bay called Sarushima, and that its name means Monkey Island, how many of you would be ready to get on the boat right now? And how many of you would then be crushingly disappointed you made the trip when you found out there aren’t actually any monkeys living there?
I’m guessing the answer to the first question would be “most of you.” As for the second? Only as many of you who, heartbroken at a lack of monkeys, didn’t walk far enough into the island’s interior to see that what Sarushima lacks in monkeys it makes up for with a mix of natural beauty and preserved architecture that makes it look like it’d be a suitable filming location for a live-action version of Studio Ghibli’s classic anime Castle in the Sky Laputa.