photos

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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Osaka Station showered with photos of a teenage boy, two train otaku questioned by police

On the evening of 19 September, JR Osaka Station became the scene of unseasonable weirdness as dozens of photographs of an unknown teenage boy seen sitting on the train fell from the sky like giant snowflakes of randomness.

Upon investigating the incident, Osaka Prefectural Police found this to have been an act of revenge by what is fast becoming Japan’s most oddball sub-culture: train otaku.

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These traditional Japanese hairpins may be too beautiful to wear

The traditional Japanese kanzashi hairpin is usually an elaborate affair meant to be worn in the hair when donning a kimono or yukata. Intricately detailed and beautiful, they’re like Japan’s answer to the corsage. But these particular kanzashi may just be too beautiful to ever wear at all on account of directing all the attention away from your kimono.

Sakae, a kanzashi specialty manufacturer, makes each kanzashi by hand from colored glass that’s been melted down and coated in resin to prevent breakage – and lord knows you wouldn’t want one of these shattering into a thousand pieces in your hair.

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Pirates, pink hair and temporary tattoos: The girls of Tokyo Game Show  2014【Photos】

Booth babes, show attendants, scantily clad PR persons; call them what you will, these girls are a big part of Tokyo Game Show, and they’re not going anywhere. They man woman the booths handing out flyers, goodies and company-approved advice and info, always dressed in a way that catches the eye, and it’s hard to imagine the event without them.

Those of you who are unable to attend TGS in person, or who are new to the concept of “booth babes” may perhaps be wondering what all the fuss is about. So for you, and for those of you who pretend to disapprove of such saucy shenanigans but secretly want to look anyway, we’d like to present our collection of photos of the girls of Tokyo Game Show 2014. You’re welcome.

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Pins, wire and crosses: How China’s military police prepare for parades

Becoming a member of any strictly regimented group or organisation requires tremendous discipline. In order to make the cut in the armed services or police, one must be prepared to dedicate themselves entirely and cast off any prior notions of entitlement or superiority. Each and every rookie is equal, and must be moulded into the exact same shape by their instructors.

Some, it would seem, more than others.

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Beautiful Toms: The manliest ladies in Thailand

Human sexuality can get pretty complicated–which is awesome if you ask us! We think it’s pretty great that more and more people have found the freedom to be themselves and express their (consensual) desires in a positive way.

And when it comes to complex sexuality, it seems that Thailand may be one of the most diverse places on the planet. While you may have any number of ideas about what sexuality is like in Thailand, we’re guessing you’re not familiar with Toms or Dees…

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“The best ryokan I’ve ever visited” – A photo tour of Akita Prefecture’s Miyakowasure inn

The ryokan [traditional Japanese-style inn] in Akita Prefecture called Miyakowasure (都わすれ; “forget the city”), also known as Natsuse Onsen, is unquestionably the best in all of Japan–at least according to our Japanese correspondent Yoshio. Out of all of the ryokan that he has ever visited, he can confidently say that this is his number-one pick.

Yoshio has stayed at literally hundreds of hotels and ryokan across the country for both business and pleasure, but he recently experienced an unparalleled level of hospitality and overall quality during his stay at this particular inn. He even thinks that hotel managers from across Japan and the world should spend a night there to learn a thing or two! That’s how enthusiastically he praises his most recent visit.

Join Yoshio for an in-depth look at this spectacular ryokan in northern Japan after the jump!

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Invasion of the moon rabbits: the delicious tradition of otsukimi 【Photos】

If you happened to be in Japan this week, you may have noticed rather a lot of rabbit-themed goods, particularly sweets. Not to worry, the Japanese haven’t gotten their dates for Easter spectacularly wrong, these lapine lovelies are part of otsukimi, a tradition celebrating the harvest moon.

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Pic of the Week, Round 5: Winner!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s finally time to announce our Pic of the Week!

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McDonald’s Japan offers Yo-Kai Watch cards with Happy Meals, traffic jams and giant lines ensue

Last weekend, McDonald’s Japan launched a new Happy Meal, or “happy set” as they’re known here. As with all of the fast food giant’s kid-centric food boxes, these sets come bundled with a gift guaranteed to appeal to children so much that they’ll bug their parents incessantly to take them to the Golden Arches.

This time, however, the bundled gift was a little bit more special than usual, with McDonald’s securing a deal to offer sets of arcade cards for anime sensation Yo-Kai Watch. While that name not (yet) mean much to anime and Happy Meal fans in the West, this collaboration pretty much allows McDonald’s Japan to print money, and there were lines out of the door at dozens of locations from the moment the sets went on sale.

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Surgery, diet, and sunscreen transform heavy, swarthy Thai boy into slender, tan-free lady

We get that the whole point of cosmetic surgery is often to dramatically change one’s appearance, beyond what’s possible through ordinary means. Likewise, if someone’s had a sex change operation, we don’t really expect the before and after pics to show a strong resemblance.

Even still, those procedures don’t automatically change your skin tone or cut your body fat percentage in half, which is why the Internet is taking notice of this slim transgender woman from Thailand who used to be a pudgy boy.

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