nature

Nagano Prefecture’s Mishaka Pond offers mirror-like waters, inspiration for art lovers

Mishaka-ike, or Mishaka Pond (御射鹿池), is a hidden natural jewel located in Chino City, Nagano Prefecture. The pond’s tranquil beauty inspired a famous painting several decades ago, and Japanese visitors have been increasingly traveling off the beaten path to view its waters for themselves, as it’s a place where the four seasons are distinctly and perfectly expressed.

Escape from the city for a relaxing moment with the following photographic collection of Mishaka-ike in the Japanese countryside.

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Typhoon Goni slams Japan, seems to have a vendetta against its cars 【Photos】

It stands to reason that you shouldn’t be moving around outdoors during a typhoon. At best you’re going to get soaking wet, and potentially injury-causing flying debris are be a legitimate safety concern.

As if to serve as a reminder, the typhoon currently battering Japan decided to remind everyone to stay put by using its 255-kilometer per hour (158.8 miles per hour) winds to dramatically wreck some Okinawan drivers’ cars.

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Great job: China’s “mosquito factory” churning out a stellar one million bugs per week!

It is often said that China is the factory of the world, and with good reason as wherever you are you’re likely able to point to at least a dozen items that were either made or assembled in PRC. While product quality and labor issues persist in some of their booming industries, there is one sector where output couldn’t be better: mosquito production!

That’s right. Somewhere in an area of Guangzhou known as Science City, a team is hard at work producing a whopping 1,000,000 mosquitoes per week. While this may sound like the premise to a cheesy sci-fi movie this level of production may end up saving hundreds if not thousands of lives.

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Embassy of Japan in Afghanistan helps transform once arid desert into lush paradise 【Pics】

Japan and Afghanistan – two countries that you wouldn’t normally imagine to have an especially good relationship, or indeed any relationship at all. But in truth they get along pretty well. The Japanese embassy in Afghanistan assists in a wide variety of projects, from anti-terrorism security to investing in education to funding hospitals.

And there’s one other thing they do that’s a little unique: helping to transform the Afghanistan landscape from a barren desert into a beautiful oasis.

The results of their efforts are truly amazing. You have to see the pictures to believe the difference that they’ve made in just a few short years.

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Exquisitely blown Japanese beer glasses create serene landscapes while you drink

Everyone knows that the best way to drink beer is either from a bottle or poured into a glass, yet more often than not you will find beer packaged in a can at the store. Cans make economic sense since they are cheap, can be crushed down to save space and they float in water if you happen to drop them while you are out having fun. However, all beer drinkers know that drinking from the can tastes horrible compared to drinking from the glass.

There are plenty of beer glasses to choose from, but a beautiful glass strangely makes the beer taste even better, and one Japanese crystal company has some of the greatest glasses for your summer drinking. Fired by the Joetsu Crystal Glass Company, the Tsukiyono Kobo line features fantastic glasses that cast your beer drinking in a much more beautiful light.

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Real-life Ghibli clouds appear as awesome thunderhead forms in the Tokyo skies 【Videos】

If you’ve ever spent the summer in Japan, you know that it’s not the heat, but the humidity that makes many people want to take refuge indoors with the air conditioning blasting. But the silver lining to this cloud is the clouds themselves, as all that moisture in the air can turn Japan’s summer skies into a stunning puffy white landscape.

On the evening of August 5, skywatchers in the Tokyo/Yokohama area that turned their eyes to the west saw a towering, lightning-spitting thundercloud so powerfully majestic it immediately drew comparisons to one of Studio Ghibli’s most beloved anime.

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Why just climb Mt. Fuji when you can build it with this awesome paper-stacking kit?

There’s an undeniable sense of accomplishment you get from making it to the top of a mountain. Maybe it comes from putting such a long series of steps, each insignificant on its own, to rise to a height where the whole world appears differently.

But perhaps a hike doesn’t figure into your plans for the near future due to your busy schedule, flat-as-a-pancake local geography, or crippling fear of grizzly bears. If you can’t climb a mountain, though, the next best thing is to build one, also one step at a time, with this awesome series of paper craft models of Japanese mountains.

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This 4K video of Kagoshima filmed by drone will settle your summer vacation plans【Video】

Living in Tokyo is pretty awesome. There’s not much you can’t find in the city and there’s always something fun going on — but every once in a while, a video or a photo will grab our attention and make us sigh forlornly thanks to a gorgeous landscape. Sure, there are some great beaches around here, but there’s just something about this drone video of Kagoshima that makes us stop and say wow.

If you’re stuck in the office or at school staring out the window and wishing you were anywhere else, this video will only make it worse. But we guarantee you’ll keep watching it over and over!

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This “natural planetarium” island could have Japan’s most beautiful view of the stars

Next week, people across Japan will be celebrating Tanabata, the age-old festival dedicated to the folk-tale of two lovers separated by the Milky Way, being reunited only once a year, on July 7th.

While in this romance story the Milky Way is nothing but an obstacle for the lovers, for the people of Aogashima, an island south of Tokyo, the Milky Way is an important part of their life and happiness. The uniquely shaped island has been gaining popularity lately, being dubbed a “natural planetarium.” Needless to say, the view of the night sky from Aogashima is outstanding.

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Creepy mushroom freaks out Japanese Twitter, ends up being an incredibly rare discovery

For some reason Japan has an affinity for strange mushrooms. There’s the classic weird mushrooms in the Mario games, mushroom anime, and of course cute-girl mushroom smartphone games.

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.

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“Skeleton” flower turns transparent when wet

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!

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Abandoned Chinese fishing village gets a natural facelift and it’s awesome 【Photos】

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.

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Mother Duck and her 14 ducklings stroll the streets of Kyoto to get home 【Videos】

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!

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Young inventor dreams big to cleanup ocean plastic, will launch test in Japan

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.

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15 million flowers are in beautiful bloom right now at Saitama’s field of Heavenly Poppies

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.

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Australia mulls koala cull, Japan’s whaling advocates eat up the irony like delicious whale meat

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.

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Strange lights appear in the skies of Japan, but thanks to fish, not aliens

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.

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Recently discovered Japanese pufferfish included in list of top ten new species

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!

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Kitakyushu’s spectacular wisteria tunnel is blooming! You don’t want to miss it!

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! 

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Spring walking event provides guided tour around Totoro forest loved by Hayao Miyazaki

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!

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