A week’s work on a Tibetan sand mandala, captured in eight mesmerizing minutes of video

Artwork takes many forms, from charcoal drawings to oil paintings, clay sculptures to wood carvings. All these types of mediums are durable in a sense, able to last many years if properly cared for. But what would you think of an artist who, after spending weeks on a project, purposefully destroys his masterpiece only a few days after its completion?

That is, in fact, part of the ritual of Tibetan sand mandala, which are symbols in Indian religions, particularly Buddhism, that symbolize the universe. Watch the incredible time-lapse video below of three Tibetan Buddhist monks as they labor away creating one of these beautiful, transient works of art!

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10 Cats have a fancy dinner with salad and kimonos【Video】

With a public holiday coming up on Monday, it’s a three-day weekend here in Japan. As you might imagine, some of us—ahem—are having a little trouble applying our fidgety brains to the task of bringing you the latest Nippon news. There’s been a lot of interesting and important developments this week that we should cover, like the shuffling of Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet and two Nobel Prizes going to Japanese researchers andOH LOOK, “10 CATS” HAS A NEW VIDEO!!!1!

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Woman in China misses bus stop, jumps out of bus window instead 【Video】

Missing your bus stop has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. You’re trapped inside a vehicle going increasingly further away from the place you wanted to go, you’re suddenly surrounded by unfamiliar territory, and you’re going to have to waste a lot of time just to get back to your original destination.

Still, no matter how bad it gets, most people would never even think to attempt what one Chinese woman did. After realizing that she missed her stop, she climbed out of the bus’s window to exit as quickly as possible. Read on and watch the insane video, but whatever you do, be sure not to try this at home!

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When Keanu met Sonny Chiba: Veteran action actor surprises John Wick star on Japanese TV

Oh, Keanu, it’s so obvious by now that you’re a big ol’ Japanophile. In fact, Hollywood mega-star Mr. Reeves seems to be spending most of his time in Japan these days. There was the time he tried to be a regular tourist in Akihabara, despite being followed by crowds of adoring fans.  And there was that time he flew all the way here just to meet his idol, Kumamon. We think Keanu should just move to Tokyo permanently!

Yep, everyone here loves Keanu, so much so that when he appeared on Japanese TV this week to promote his action movie John Wick (which is finally coming out in Japan this month) they surprised him with a special gift – a surprise appearance by Sonny Chiba, Japanese martial arts movie star and one of Keanu’s biggest influences!

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Amazing drone footage captures jaw-dropping traffic jam in China 【Video】

If you ever thought you’d been stuck in a traffic jam, you may want to think again.

Aerial footage taken yesterday in China shows what happens when thousands of people arrive at a toll booth at once as they head home after a week-long national holiday. With cars stretching as far as the eye can see and 50 lanes of vehicles, this is one traffic jam you don’t want to be in.

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Can robot taxis help rural Japanese towns facing depopulation? This touching commercial says yes!

Google’s self-driving cars have gone from being a quizzical project that only the geekiest of geeks cared about to a very real possible future. Of course, Google isn’t the only company making forays into automated transportation, so it’s hardly a surprise that Japanese companies are also working on such technology.

But where Google’s self-driving cars basically look like tiny adorable bugs, Japan’s Robot Taxi is looking to solve the various transportation issues facing Japan—both urban and rural—with one magic bullet. Will they be successful? We have no idea, but this touching commercial will definitely have you rooting for them!

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The LifeStraw can make all kinds of water drinkable, but does it work on urine? 【Video】

Have you heard of the LifeStraw? It’s a small water filter designed for one person that removes virtually all bacteria and parasites from unclean water. It has saved lives all over the world during natural disasters, helped areas with unclean drinking water, and even won awards for how effective it is.

But of course we had one question for the LifeStraw: can it make pee drinkable? If it’s truly such an amazing device, can it make drinkable water during the worst possible circumstances?

We put it to the test, so read on to see if a LifeStraw will need to be part of your zombie apocalypse kit.

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Open stall indicators, fresh flowers, and the superb cleanliness of a Japanese highway restroom

On long car trips in the U.S., I didn’t really find the prospect of using a highway rest stop bathroom significantly more appealing than just holding it until I got to my destination, whether that meant waiting until the next city or the next state. Honestly, given how filthy a lot of the public toilets were, I was generally happier with a deserted stretch of road or a grove of trees I could pull over near.

In Japan, though, it’s a different story, as this video of a rest stop bathroom shows it to be cleaner and classier than the one in many people’s homes.

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Oita lures travelers with wonderful montage of synchronized hot spring bathing 【Video】

Japan may be a small country in terms of area, but it certainly makes up for it with 47 distinct prefectures that have their own vibrant personalities. Prefectures like Tokyo and Osaka dominate with their big city lifestyles, while Kyoto and Nara rely on their richly preserved history. Some have festivals that have survived for hundreds of years, others have geological formations that make them stand out or new attractions that you can’t find anywhere else.

For prefectures to separate themselves from the rest and showcase what makes them special, they have to do something grand. In Oita Prefecture, this means presenting their world-famous hot springs with a synchronized swimming team in what can only be known as “synchronized bathing”.

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“Do you prefer busts or bottoms?” Prison School drama looks to be as lewd as the anime 【Videos】

Last month, we got our first in-costume look at the cast of the upcoming live-action TV adaptation of manga and anime Prison School. But while the production’s casting directors, stylists, and costumers have done a commendable job making the real-life performers look like their 2-D inspirations, fans have been wondering if the live-action Prison School will still feel like its source material.

After all, it’s not uncommon for there to be a major shift in tone when anime goes live-action, and a lot of the outlandishly pervy stuff that goes on in the animated Prison School ostensibly gets a pass from censors because it’s not being done by real people. Still, it doesn’t look like the live-action Prison School is looking to change the formula that worked for both the anime and the manga, as its two preview videos show it’s still perfectly happy to bask in its ludicrous lewdness, as well as repeatedly ask the question “Do you prefer butts or breasts?”

Heads-up! Depending on how accepting your workplace environment is of ludicrous lewdness, you might want to save these videos for after you get home.

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Robot cellphone makes calls, walks, talks, projects, dances and will be your new BFF【Video】

As Japan’s human population decreases, its robot population steadily rises. From the giant, rideable KURATAS to SoftBank’s domestic robot, Pepper, there’s diversity in their numbers but from next year, one smart mechanical biped aims to outdo them all.

It’s the adorable RoBoHoN from Sharp, who’s set to crush the cellphone market with an array of impressive features and an equally charming character. To see just how amazing this little guy is, come with us as we take a look at his exclusive introductory video after the break.

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Buildings transform into giant robots in Japanese real estate company’s anime commercial【Video】

When was the last time you sat down to watch a YouTube video by a real estate company? We’re going to assume never, because who even knew that real estate companies had YouTube accounts?

Japan’s Mitsui Real Estate Residential, however, not only has a YouTube account, but their recently posted video is becoming wildly popular. The company managed to combine their housing expertise with the fail-safe giant robot genre to create a short animated series about apartment buildings that transform into giant robots!

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“Come on Hammy, time for walkies!” Old man attempts to walk hamster on leash in Tokyo 【Video】

Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to take your pet out into the fresh air and commune with nature together. It’s an obvious perk of dog-ownership, but even some cats enjoy a little time on the leash. And who could forget the spectacle of the giant tortoise taking a stroll around Tokyo with its owner?

But a recent pet-walkies fiasco captured on Twitter has us scratching our heads. Why on earth would anyone try to walk a hamster?!

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Fans replace Dragon Ball Z’s animation with finger puppets, keep the awesome fighting 【Video】

Many Japanese animation fans, after having their hopes dashed and their hearts broken one too many times, come to accept the truism that it’s just not possible to make a good live-action version of their favorite anime. Right now, it’s Attack on Titan’s turn in the hot seat, as its two recently released movies have been roundly roasted by fans of the original work and critics alike, and years ago Dragonball Evolution had far more people groaning than cheering as their left theaters.

But maybe it’s not so much that anime has to stay hand-drawn, but just that it can’t be replicated by human actors. We’ve seen Attack on Titan look cool in stop-motion and sheep sub for the cast of Dragon Ball. As a matter of fact, maybe you can even show part of a human actor, just not the whole person, like in this epic and funny battle between two of Dragon Ball’s mightiest martial artists…as played by a pair of finger puppets.

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Cute cat’s curiosity kills the Japanese sliding paper door 【Video】

If you’ve ever seen shoji, the sliding wood-framed paper doors that are a common element of traditional Japanese architecture, you’ve probably been overcome by two strong emotions. First, a sense of admiration for the timeless beauty of the elegantly simple aesthetic. Second, a burning desire to know just how hard you can poke that translucent paper before you puncture it.

Poking holes in the shoji paper is a major faux pas, however, and even young kids in Japan know they’re supposed to resist the temptation. It doesn’t look like this kitty got the message, though, as it unleashes its adorably destructive hunting instincts on a defenseless shoji in this video.

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In Japanese elementary schools, lunchtime means serving classmates, cleaning the school 【Video】

Last month, we took a look at how in Japan many children are expected to commute to school without their parents’ help starting in elementary school. That’s not the only amazing display of responsibility that’s part of everyday life for Japanese kids, though.

Not only do Japanese schools not have school busses, they also don’t have food-serving or cleaning staff. That means it’s the students themselves who’re responsible for distributing school lunches and keeping the building clean, and the diligence with which they go about their tasks would put many full-blown adults to shame, as shown in this video of all the things Japanese grade schoolers are expected to do during a typical school day in addition to studying.

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All about the Kumano Kodo, the World Heritage Sites of the Kii Peninsula【Pics & Video】

Walking through Japan can be a truly uplifting experience. You see so much more by walking through places, especially sacred places. It’s different from walking to them, seeing, and then leaving. Another bonus is (unless you’re climbing Mount Fuji), there are no crowds since, in our modern world, it just doesn’t occur to most people to see things on foot. As we learned previously, quite a few of Japan’s World Heritage Sites are on hiking trails, and the World Heritage Sites of the Kii Peninsula are also located conveniently along ancient pilgrimage routes of the past.

The Kumano Kodo (actually a network of trails) has been traveled by Japanese worshipers for over 1,000 years. By following the route, you not only get to see ancient Japan, but you’ll encounter nature worship everywhere you turn. You’ll feel more like you’re experiencing ancient Japan, rather than just looking at it from the outside.

Come with us now as we hike our way along the Nakahechi route, the well-groomed, often cobble-stoned path that connects a string of quaint little towns where you can book into comfortable ryokans serving gourmet food and offering hot spring baths to soothe your tired muscles. This is glamping—Japanese style!

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Smashing cakes and eating hair: City in Gifu Prefecture releases bizarre PR video【Video】

Following in the footsteps of Kobayashi City in Miyazaki Prefecture, Gifu Prefecture’s Seki City has recently released its own quirky PR video. This ad, however, focuses on the city’s contribution to daily life with an important product that the city is famous for rather than emphasizing any local accent. Judging by the bizarre scene in the photo above, can you guess what Seki City is famous for producing? Here’s a hint: This video is shear madness!

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High school students’ teacup ride blows up online, looks more fun than the Disneyland one

For many of our readers, the “culture festivals” held at high schools and colleges will already be familiar thanks to their prevalence in anime and TV dramas produced in Japan. Even if you’ve never been to Japan yourself, you probably already know that the classes turn their rooms into fun little shops, offering food and entertainment for their families, friends, alumni fellow students and teachers.

While most of them aren’t particularly elaborate, every now and then, a class with will show up with a project that goes above and beyond. This year, one of those projects exploded online, capturing the attention of thousands of Twitter users. The idea? The students made their own “tea cup” ride! It’s just like what you’d see at Disneyland, but entirely mechanical and way, way more awesome!

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Baked Sweetness from London arrives in Tokyo as Lola’s Cupcakes opens shop in Harajuku!

The Harajuku/Omotesando district in Tokyo is already a mecca of sweet shops from around the world, but things in the area just got even sweeter this past weekend as another internationally loved bakery opened its very first shop in Japan. Yes, we’re delighted that London’s celebrated LOLA’S cupcakes now has a shop in Tokyo, and as you may have guessed, we weren’t about to miss out on trying the sweet creations from one of London’s best-loved baking outlets, so there we were on opening day.

We already knew from the pictures that their cupcakes look simply amazing; now we couldn’t wait to try some for ourselves, and there were even going to be four original Japanese flavors too — Yum!

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