weird

Holiday travelers in China get sleepy, creative and frisky on trains 【Photos】

Here in Japan, we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go until our next public holiday, when Sports Day comes up on October 13. Workers in China, though, can look forward to a day off much sooner with National Day of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.

The holiday marks the founding of the nation, and many people choose to spend their time off by visiting family members. The travel rush seems to have already started, but with a country as large as China, some passengers are in for a long ride back to their home towns. But when you’re spending hours upon hours on a train how do you get some shut-eye without springing for a sleeper car? By being inventive and literally flexible, as these photos show us.

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McDonald’s Japan celebrates Halloween by joining the dark burger revolution

It’s been just over a week since the release of Burger King’s two pitch-black hamburgers, which might have left some fast food fans in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they’re definitely eye-catching and intriguing, but their buns owe (and cheese) their sinister shade to an infusion of bamboo charcoal.

While it’s perfectly edible, we imagine some people are just a tad averse to eating charcoal. So if your palate isn’t quite that wide, but you’re still adventurous enough to eat squid ink, McDonald’s has got you covered with their own dark burger.

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Creative problem solving: Vending machine dispenses cans with 5 yen coins taped to them

One cool thing about living in Japan is that, whether you’re in a bustling city or the open countryside, you’re never too far from a vending machine. True, you won’t find any canned ramen in many machines outside of Akihabara, but so long as there’s power to run one, you’re pretty much always within a few hundred metres of a machine selling both chilled and hot drinks.

We’ve seen some unusual things turning up in Japan’s vending machines over the years, but cans of peach juice with money taped to them is definitely a new one.

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Is it another creepy Japanese iPhone case? No, it’s a multicoloured hermaphrodite lobster!

You have to feel sorry for the uglier animals of this world. While kittens and bunnies inspire a universal chorus of “awwwwwww”, if you’re unlucky enough to be born a crustacean or insect, chances are people don’t think you’re so cute.

The Japanese spiny lobster, or Ise-ebi, is a bumpy, spooky-looking creature at the best of times. This one, which was caught off Tōshi-jima in Ise Bay this week, is a gynandromorph – one side of its body is male, the other half is female. Mainichi Shimbun reports that the creature is truly one in a million!

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Wow, literature is cute! Hiroshima library designs anime mascots for decimal classifications

Nowadays, whenever we want to access to the vast wealth of knowledge humanity has amassed, all we have to do check Google, Wikipedia, or the RocketNews24 search box. But long ago, you had to go to a place called a library.

With an Internet search engine you can just type in what you’re looking for, but simply scrawling, say, “history of feudal Japan” on the wall of the library will not only fail to provide you with the information you seek, it’ll probably get you thrown out of the building. Instead, you’ve got to utilize a system of numbers used to organize written works. While the U.S. has the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress Classifications, Japan has its own framework, called the Nippon Decimal Classification.

For modern youths, though, having to look up books by a numeric code feels extremely cumbersome and inefficient. So how do you get young readers excited about using the Nippon Decimal Classification? By anthropomorphizing it as a team of cute anime characters. , of course!

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Japanese company creates ball-balancing cheerleader robots

Japan has an infatuation with robots; after all, you don’t see beautiful cyborg women hanging out in restaurants in the US or 24-fingered hair washing bots in the UK. That’s why we weren’t surprised at all to find that Japan has just produced a gang of cheerleading robots that dance in sync while balancing on a ball.

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We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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Cat Sushi figures return to Japanese vending machines! Our collection (and lives) are complete

We recently added to our collection of weird Japanese toys by buying a couple of Doggy Bread Figures. But while the canine fans in the RocketNews24 office were happy, our resident cat lovers couldn’t help but sigh in sad reminiscence of the good old days when they could decorate their shelves with cat sushi.

Well, the worlds of Japanese cuisine and cute kitties have once again collided, as there’s a new batch of really (and surreally) cute sushi cat figures on the market, and we’ve already compiled a complete set.

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Thirsty? How about some cider made with Japanese cat nip?

Even though you can find Coca-Cola in every convenience store in Japan, for the most part the country isn’t all that into carbonated soft drinks. So if you’re selling a fizzy, non-alcoholic beverage, you need some kind of unique hook.

Pepsi has made a habit of periodically releasing unusual flavors such as chestnut or cucumber-flavored sodas, but we’ve also seen smaller, regional producers put out some creative concoctions such as cider that tastes like tomatoes, tea, or olives. Even still, beverage makers haven’t exhausted every possible taste, as right now in Yokohama and Osaka you can get your hands on cider made with silver vine, or Japanese catnip.

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Kyoto mascot bridges the gap between weirdly cute and just plain weird

As one of the most scenic sections of one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, Kyoto’s Arashiyama isn’t exactly hurting for tourists. Still, the neighborhood is looking to attract even more visitors, and in doing so has decided to employ Japan’s current favorite travel marketing technique by creating a yuru-kyara, or local mascot.

Designers actually had multiple ways they could have gone with this, such as playing up the area’s historic temples or beautiful bamboo groves. In the end, they drew their inspiration from the Togetsukyou Bridge, which was first constructed in the early 9th century.

But while that’s a fine choice, we can’t help but question the final design for the character, in which a portion of the bridge is dumped on the back of the vaguely humanoid creature called Wataru Tsukihashi.

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This Japanese Febreze ad looks a bit like the start of a kaiju movie 【Video】

Before moving to Japan, I always liked to imagine that Japanese TV shows would be a cross between Takeshi’s Castle and Iron Chef. In reality, television here is far less entertaining, and seems to consist predominantly of carefully orchestrated panel shows and broadcasts which are so plastered with gaudy graphics and subtitles that I often feel as if I’m reading more than I’m watching when I sit in front of my TV set.

Thankfully, Japan’s primetime ads are usually far more quirky and entertaining. Take this recent commercial for odour-removal spray Febreze, for example, which features a giant, gurning sun dual-wielding bottles of the stuff.

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Swimsuit idols that you can date and marry

Pop idols exist in this strange space between reality and fantasy. While they are living, breathing individuals, they are set on a pedestal and rarely get to interact with people one on one. While groups like AKB48 may be tied to a certain location to serve as a symbol of pride for one area’s people, outside of meet and greet events, fans cannot really get to know them. Of course, the biggest taboo of all is for a pop idol and a fan to begin dating. But one brave group has decided to step forth from the binds of their image. Meet the members of the idol group Happening Girls. These four lovely ladies depicted here are unique in the idol community because they are allowed to foster relationships, date, and even marry their fans.

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Japanese flutist keeps her cool, plays beautifully even with a butterfly crawling across her face

Part of my job at RocketNews24 is providing English titles for the videos on our YouTube channel. So my knee-jerk reaction when stumbling across a clip, from a different source, with the title “flute performance butterfly stop the face” is to point out the capitalization and syntax errors.

But you know what? Full points to whoever thought it up anyway. That jumbled cocktail of nouns and verbs just about perfectly captures what would run through any of our heads if we experienced what the woman in the video did: a butterfly crawling around her face in the middle of an important flute performance.

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Spotted in Japan: “Wild Bacon”

Sometimes when you’re hungry for a delicious, savoury treat, even regular bacon isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need WILD bacon.

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English-learning smartphone app teaches Japanese students to say “I just took a dump”

While the English edition of RocketNews24 is primarily focused on Asia in general and Japan in particular, our Japanese-language sister site, Pouch, covers stories from around the world. Sometimes, the source information they work with is in English, so Pouch’s team members are always on the lookout for ways to brush up their language skills.

So we weren’t shocked to hear that one of Pouch’s writers, Marie, had recently gotten really into a new English-learning smartphone app. What did surprise us, though, was when we took a look at the phrases she was learning, including such nuggets as, “I just took a dump.”

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Squirt hand (job) guns – Weird trigger placement on animal-shaped toys promise a dirty deluge

When you stop and think about it, designing squirt guns is actually a pretty hard job. In an era where people have smartphones, video games, and the wonders of the Internet to keep them entertained, how do you get people to seriously consider shooting tiny sprays of tepid water at one another a viable entertainment option?

One idea is to go for a unique design, like the company that decided to model its guns after bears and leopards. That’s playful, unexpected, and eye-catching right? Unfortunately, guns and four-legged animals ordinarily have very different shapes, and in this case, trying to mash the two together meant the trigger ended up in a place you really shouldn’t touch a grizzly unless you’re looking to get mauled. 

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Burger King Japan’s black burgers look unbelievably gross in real life

Burger King recently launched two new hamburgers in Japan that feature black buns and cheese with matching squid ink black sauce. Ads, like the one above, made the burgers look pretty unappetizing. But the burgers, known as the Kuro Diamond and Kuro Pearl, look even worse in reality.

Here are some examples:

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Leg-based marketing campaign at Tokyo Game Show catches eyes, leaves attendees scratching their heads

On our visit to the Tokyo Game Show, it seemed like just about every flat surface outside and around Makuhari Messe, the event’s venue, was plastered with ads for upcoming horror title Psycho Break. Inside nearby Keihin Makuhari Station, though, there was a different advertising blitz going on.

Adorning the train station’s walls was a series of posters showing nothing but legs. We’re sure they caught the eyes of plenty of male attendees, but just what the heck are they advertising?

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Kid’s video of whirlwind Japan tour reveals otaku paradise, pervy action figures

Everybody’s got that story. The story of why they decided they wanted to go to Japan in the first place. Unsurprisingly, for a lot of people it’s manga, anime and even J-Pop. For a lot of guys, it’s the girls. For (comparatively fewer) girls, it’s the guys. Some like the food. Some like the “Old Japan” feel of Kyoto and Kamakura. A few even go for the outdoor activities.

And some go for the pervy action figures.

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From plums to panties, the strange and beautiful bento of Keisuke Umeda【Photos】

When you think about the media that artists can work in, ink, paint, stone, metal, wood, and glass all spring readily to mind. We could take an even broader view and include things such as film, sound, and even light. But even then, we’d still be overlooking the creations of Keisuke Umeda, who brings to life scenes of beautiful nature, disturbing juxtaposition, and offbeat humor through the medium of boxed bento lunches.

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