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Bonsai treehouses look like something out of Howl’s Moving Castle 【Photos】

Even without adornment, a well-done bonsai is a sight to see. It’s amazing how something as massive and powerful as a tree can be hemmed and trimmed to create a delicate, miniature version of itself. But for some, that level of artistry doesn’t go far enough.

Now bonsai artists are adding fantastical tree houses and other structures around their vegetative creations, resulting in multi-level, gravity-defying feats of architecture that still fit under a garden cloche.

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Neko Montage! The most fun you can have with a cat and a sharpie【Photos】

It’s often the simple things that bring us most pleasure in life – like these giggle-inducing ‘neko montage’ photos making waves on Twitter in Japan.

Join us after the jump for delightful paper-augmented cats looking cute, angry, surprised, and plain old baffled!

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Endangered critters in China get health check, diagnosed with acute cuteness 【Photos】

Remember when you were in school and had to do that dreaded health and fitness check in PE class? Turns out those trials aren’t just for little homo sapiens.

A few days ago, workers at the Pu’er Sun River national park were checking the health of their endangered charges ahead of some research projects and got some pretty adorable snaps in the process.

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How to take a post-surgery “transformation” shot: A guide to faking it【Photos】

There’s another batch of shocking “before and after” pics of plastic surgery doing the rounds: transformation pictures of Chinese women, accompanied by captions listing the procedures the women have had, from double eyelid surgery to rhinoplasty.

I’m not a doctor, but I do have eyes, and surgery is not the only thing going on in these pictures. There are heaps of other factors that make these amazing post-surgery photos look better than the “before” shots. Here are but a few.

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Taiwan Rugby Union’s naked calendar: Because men have butts too【Photos】

As the internet implodes with the news that Kim Kardashian’s naked posterior is on the front of Paper magazine, we thought we’d jump right on the nudity bandwagon and bring you this exciting missive from the clothes-free front line.

That’s right, Taiwan’s rugby union players are releasing a naked calendar, and we’ve got the pics to prove it!

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Cute cat warms harbles, achieves Nirvana in front of heater

We posted earlier this week about how Japanese cats survive the cold winter months by bogarting the sweet, sweet warmth of the space heater, but this cold little fellow is lucky enough not to have to share his oasis of warmth with any other felines or even a pesky human. How happy does that make him? Photos of kitty bliss after the jump.

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Mount Aso: I heard you like volcanoes, so I put some volcanoes in your volcano【Photos】

Japan is a country with a whole lot of volcanoes of all shapes, sizes and persuasions. From the iconic Mt. Fuji to the recently erupted Mt. Ontake, you really can’t swing a koto around here without hitting a geological pressure cooker. And nowhere is that truer than the Aso-Kuju National Park in Kyushu, where they literally have volcanoes on top of volcanoes.

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We think he’s purr-fect! Meet Monty, the cat born without a nose bone【Photos】

Monty is a four-year-old rescue cat who’s amassed fans from all over the world. He suffers from a rare chromosomal abnormality causing him to be born without a nasal bridge. And Monty’s owners are hoping their cat will show the world that ‘looking different doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastic!’

Join us after the jump for more adorable photos of this happy little chap!

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No offense, Russia, but some of your food-art can be pretty terrible

Okay, so first off, I just want to start by saying I promise to avoid any “In Mother Russia, xxxx eat you!” jokes in this article, as tempting (and as easy) as it may be to do so.

But, that said: come on, Russia! You’re jockeying with China for worst food-art fails of all time here. While Japan has been busy cranking out new and innovative ways to create beautiful and sometimes seemingly impossible food-art masterpieces, other regions are definitely falling behind with, at best hilarious fails and, at worst, nightmare-inducing food abominations.

Let’s take a look at a few food-art fails from Russia:

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Real China dolls! Lolita fashion turns Chinese in a fusion of East meets East【Photos】

Lolita fashion is one of Japan’s most famous cultural phenomena. And lolita style, characterised by intricate, lace-adorned dresses and a doll-like look, has an off-shoot sub-genre for almost every day of the year. There’s gothic lolita, punk lolita, ‘sweet’, classic, princess, even pirate…and coming full circle, “Japanese-style” wa lolita, which incorporates elements of traditional Japanese dress such as kimono fabric, long sleeves and obi sashes.

But what happens when you mix lolita with Chinese cheongsam dresses? You get ‘qi lolita‘, a sub-genre which looks not to Japan or Europe, but to China, for its inspiration. It’s bold, different, and seriously cute.

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Go to hell: Unzen Hot Springs invites visitors to take an infernal stroll through a field of deadly hell-mouths

Welcome to Unzen, Kyushu, a sulphurous field of geothermal activity so inhospitable to life that its boiling hot springs and gas jets go by the name of jigoku or hells. This Halloween, allow us to be your Virgil and guide you through this strange world where eerie noises drift from hellish craters, clouds of foul-smelling gas confuse the mind and Christian martyrs were once boiled to death!

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Ultra-realistic cat latte art blows us away, puts us off our coffee

Latte art is all the rage in Japan right now, and as you might expect, it tends heavily towards the super-kawaii. But today, we spotted some super realistic-looking latte art from Twitter user @dongurinekobei and it looks both amazing and undrinkable.

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Meet Menswear Dog, the world’s most stylish Shiba Inu【Photos】

Bodhi is a five-year-old Shiba who lives in New York City. He’s also a talented model and one of the best-dressed dogs on the planet, so it’s no wonder he’s already racked up 150,000 followers on Instagram.

Owners Yena Kim, a former designer at Ralph Lauren, and her boyfriend David Fung started dressing Bodhi up for fun last year, posting the pictures to Facebook as a joke. Now Menswear Dog is so doggone lucrative, they’ve both been able to quit their full-time jobs to work with him.

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Yo-kai Watch mania has even reached the vegetable world! Here’s a Halloween pumpkin roundup!

There are still two weeks to go until Halloween, but pumpkin-carving in Japan is already in full swing! And it looks like it’s the new kid on the anime block, Yo-kai Watch, that’s getting all the jack-o-lantern attention this year.

When I used to teach kids in Japan, there were some elementary students who, upon being given a worksheet, would immediately turn any circle on the page into Doraemon’s face. Now, it seems, the face of choice to draw (or indeed carve) into any empty circular space is Jibanyan’s!

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“You will need courage!”: We try a sweetfish hot dog

Salt fish hot dog! If you think a word (or two) needs dropping from that sentence, think again.

For a limited time only, a crisp, salty whole sweetfish – in a bun! – can be yours to enjoy at Kyoto Aquarium. Yep. At the aquarium. I don’t know about you, but after looking at aquatic creatures all day I’m not really in the mood for fish…

Not so our reporter Yuuichiro, who was so excited to hear about the fish dog that he headed down to the aquarium cafe and put together this photo review for us! This is his report, eyeballs and all.

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Obama appears in small Kyushu town, possibly seeking treatment for aggressive skin disease

You really never know who you are going to meet when traveling. That’s one of the things that makes it so enjoyable. But imagine our surprise when we ran into the leader of the free world in an isolated hot spring town in Kyushu! It might have something to do with the name of the place though…

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A man-made cave of wonders: the world’s biggest underground storm drain in Kasukabe, Japan

Deep beneath the ground, 19 miles north of Tokyo, lies a truly incredible feat of engineering. The G-Cans Project is the largest storm drain on earth, a colossal series of underground silos and tunnels, built to protect Tokyo from flooding during typhoon seasons. Its main hall (actually an enormous water tank) is held up by 59 columns each 25 metres high, and is known as the “Underground Temple”.

The facility is free to visit by guided tour, and the folks at Another Tokyo, a Japanese website introducing off-the-beaten-track places from around the country, recently went to check it out. This is what they found!

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Miranda Kerr’s newest photoshoot for Vogue Japan stirs up controversy

Geisha, samurai, manga. Those are the three themes that Peruvian photographer Mario Testino used in his recent photoshoot with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr for the special 15th anniversary November issue of Vogue Japan. While Kerr is no stranger to Japanese television commercials (need laundry detergent, anyone?), her recent photos have been stirring up controversy due to the ‘vaguely ethnic-looking style’ of the fashion used in the shoot.

Take a look at the photos and then decide for yourself what’s going on here–is it cultural appropriation, or cultural appreciation?

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Photobook of cats in Japan goes beyond kawaii, beautifully captures many sides of feline life

For those of you who need a little break from Japanese cute culture and pampered internet stars from the animal kingdom, French photographer Alexandre Bonnefoy’s photobook may be just the ticket. Neko Land: Une vie de chat au Japon (A cat’s life in Japan) reveals the many faces of street cats, communally owned cats, pets, and cat café residents found all over Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaidō.

Read on to view a large sample of the elegant and expressive work that resulted from his two-year stay, which portrays cats from many walks of life in a frank, but no less loving, manner. As Bonnefoy gives equal importance to their unadorned surroundings, let these felines guide you and immerse yourself in the often overlooked nooks and crannies of the varied communities around Japan.

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Check out these amazing miniature dioramas from Tokyo artist Satoshi Araki【Photos】

Satoshi Araki is an artist who creates miniature dioramas. In one of his brilliantly imagined worlds, a mysterious figure stands in a dark alleyway. In another, a car with smashed-out windows sprawls in front of a bombed-out house in a destroyed city.

Araki sometimes puts a single finger into the frame to show the scale of the tiny scenes, which are sculpted in painstaking detail. His coke cans are smaller than a fingernail; his Vespa model is tiny enough to rest on your thumb.

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