weird

Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

There are plenty of Japanese foods that meet little to no resistance on the Western palate. Soba noodles and beef bowls tend to go down easily for new arrivals, and while the weirdness factor may take some time to get over, not too many people have complaints about the flavor of things like raw fish and cod roe.

There is, however, one hurdle in Japanese gastronomic assimilation that is so high that some people never clear it: natto, or fermented soybeans. Recently, we took on the notoriously challenging (and smelly) natto with the help of a powerful ally, honey.

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Japanese pro wrestlers become anime girls for new trading card game

Japanese pro wrestlers become anime girls for new trading card game

Well here’s something we never thought we’d see or even imagine or think about or have any interest in.

For some reason popular Ring Dream: Girl’s Pro Wrestling Battle online trading card game, which lets players pit their anime girl wrestlers against each other for in-game prizes and bragging rights, is teaming with Japanese pro wrestling association DDT to turn some of DDT’s most popular male wrestlers into in-game characters. In-game female characters.

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Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

You might think that middle-aged is synonymous with uncool, but middle-aged men in Japan, or oji-san, are currently something of a hot item.

Young Japanese women find a certain type of dorky oji-san to be “totes adorbs, yo” and are driving a boom in oji-san-related goods, including quite a number of apps featuring cutely crotchety oji-sans. Here are a few we’ve recently discovered.

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Oh the things you’ll see when glancing at a nearby passenger’s phone on the trains of Japan

Oh the things you’ll see when glancing at a nearby passenger’s phone on the trains of Japan

When you’re crammed into a train car during rush hour in Japan and almost everyone has a smartphone in their hands, you sometimes can’t help but look at what someone’s doing on their phone. Moreover, when you have a mix of seated and standing commuters, things get even more interesting, enabling a perfectly positioned passenger to sneak peaks at an unsuspecting person’s private messages. As you’d expect, you come across some really weird stuff when no one thinks you’re looking. Let’s take a look at five anecdotes from passengers who just happened to glance over at their nearby passenger’s phone.

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This man’s account of single-handedly digging his own well is oddly moving

This man’s account of single-handedly digging his own well is oddly moving

Have you got what it takes to dig your own private well? Well, to be honest, the thought has never really crossed our minds before, but after watching this video we’ve sure been inspired to try (sounds like a good summer project for Mr. Sato). We’ve also learned that well-digging is not for the faint of heart. Here’s the video journal of one man’s long journey to create a well in his backyard over the course of a summer. His adventure was full of ups and downs and many frustrating moments, but the end result was worth all of the trouble, not to mention making surprisingly interesting watching. Join us after the jump for a slideshow of this strenuous undertaking!

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Japan seems just a little more terrifying with discovery of local leech’s superpower

Japan seems just a little more terrifying with discovery of local leech’s superpower

Japan is rightfully billed as being an extremely safe country, and for the most part this extends to its natural environment. Lacking the wolves of Europe and North America, the lions and hippopotami of Africa, and the poisonous everything of Australia, there really isn’t a whole lot lurking in the Japanese animal kingdom that frightens us.

Or at least there wasn’t, until we heard the news that Japan is home to a species of super leeches that can even survive being frozen.

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Scalding your subordinate with tofu – definitely not proper police procedure

Scalding your subordinate with tofu – definitely not proper police procedure

When you think about it, there really aren’t that many situations in which it’s OK to smash food into someone else’s face. I racked my brain, and could only come up with the following two:

1. You’re a pie-throwing extra in a Three Stooges movie.

2. You and your spouse share the same slapstick sense of humor, and want to smush a slice of wedding cake into each other’s’ faces at your reception.

You know what doesn’t make the list? Scalding someone’s mug with piping-hot tofu, especially if you’re a high-ranking police officer.

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Japan’s “true love tester” bra won’t open unless he gets your heartbeat up

Japan’s “true love tester” bra won’t open unless he gets your heartbeat up

It’s a chastity belt for breasts! The “true love tester” bra is the world’s first scientifically engineered undergarment for women that actually reads your body’s signals. Ravijour, the company behind this peculiar product, touts the garment as “a revolutionary bra that knows how women truly feel.” It seems the bra cannot be unhooked without “true love” and will literally pop off of the wearer upon finding that special someone.

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Plastic surgery clinic in Seoul makes art out of patients’ jaw bones

Plastic surgery clinic in Seoul makes art out of patients’ jaw bones

You like sausage, right? Of course you do. But no one ever wants to see how the sausage is made. So why did this plastic surgery clinic in Seoul think it was a good idea to display two towering columns filled with the jaw bones of their past patients? It’s enough to make you rethink your pursuit of the perfect chin.

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How many abandoned bicycles can fit in just one Tokyo pond?

How many abandoned bicycles can fit in just one Tokyo pond?

One of the odder problems you run into living in Japan is how to throw large things away. Say you’ve just bought a new bicycle, for example. In many countries you could find a charity to donate it to, or perhaps a relative or friend of a friend who’s just starting college or a career.

Japan’s predominantly middle-class society and general dislike of used durable goods means you’re unlikely to find someone willing to take your old bike off your hands, though. Trash collectors won’t haul off something that big unless you shell out an additional fee, either. In some cases, people will simply abandon their bike somewhere, such as a back alley or deserted parking lot.

Or, apparently, in a lake in one of Tokyo’s most beloved parks.

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We try french fries and chocolate sauce at Lotteria Japan

We try french fries and chocolate sauce at Lotteria Japan

We all know that there are few combinations that are better than dipping your french fries in a vanilla shake. The hot, salty fries mixed with cold, sweet ice cream…it’s a match made in cheeseburger paradise. But fries and chocolate? Japanese fast food chain, Lotteria, is betting you’ll make the jump from shakes to chocolate syrup with their new menu item. We knew we had to send Mr. Sato out to give this crazy combo a try.

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Japanese university has only one student, presumably lackluster campus life

Japanese university has only one student, presumably lackluster campus life

When it comes to education, most people put a high value on a low teacher-to-student ratio. If that is true, then St. Thomas University in Japan must be one hell of a deal, seeing as they currently have exactly one enrolled student.

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Japanese airline ANA causes controversy by airing “racist” commercial

Japanese airline ANA causes controversy by airing “racist” commercial

All Nippon Airways has landed in some hot water thanks to a recent commercial advertising the company’s new international routes to Vancouver and Hanoi. The 30 second clip features a Japanese actor speaking English and wearing a fake nose and blonde wig. But is the commercial inherently racist? It seems the vote is split in this particular case.

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Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Among the many kinds of tasty sweets indigenous to Japan, you’ll find the monaka. Monaka consist of two wafers, traditionally sandwiched around a dollop of the sweet red bean paste called anko.

Different confectioners put their own unique spin on monaka, such as infusing it with citrus or mixing ice cream in the filling. But while we’ve eaten plenty of variations on the tasty treat, our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato recently brought back one we’d never heard of before: suicide monaka.

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【Thursday Throwback】When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!

【Thursday Throwback】When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!

There’s a new breed of sushi in town, and it’s called nekozushi (cat sushi). These unusual creatures live in an alternate reality, travelling between worlds on colourful sushi train plates, stopping to stare at passers-by for just long enough to get them thinking, “Did I really see that?” before zooming off again. Rare sightings have been reported over the years but no-one’s ever been able to really prove the existence of a sushi cat. Until now.

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Seemingly cute polar bear figure’s shocking secret will break your heart in a single second

Seemingly cute polar bear figure’s shocking secret will break your heart in a single second

I’ve never seen Pixar’s 2003 hit Finding Nemo, but I do know that when it came out, the whole world went gaga for clownfish. I can see why. With their colorful stripped bodies and cute little mouths, the things are adorable, even without the benefit of a feature-length motion picture from some of the most talented CG artists on the planet giving them a PR boost.

But you know something interesting about clownfish? They’re immune to the paralyzing toxins of the sea anemone. So when the cute little fishies start feeling hungry, they just hang out in the sea anemone’s tentacles, wait for it to immobilize and draw in some less resilient form of aquatic life, then dig in. After eating and digesting, some of the clownfish’s poo will drift into the anemone’s maw, providing it with important nutrients.

Now that we’ve thoroughly ruined Nemo for you, let us explain why this seemingly harmless polar bear tissue box cover is in fact terrifying.

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Chairman of Japan Mother’s Society arrested, accused of beating wife

Chairman of Japan Mother’s Society arrested, accused of beating wife

The Japan Mother’s Society, as the name implies, is a non-government organization committed to providing information and support to assist Japanese women with the difficulties of raising children in our modern age. Along with consultation and events designed to raise awareness about parenting issues, the organization has also been involved in volunteer activities helping to bring a little joy and levity to the children of families who have lost their homes due to earthquakes or other natural disasters.

Surprisingly, Shinji Morimatsu, the head of the Japan Mother’s Association, is not a mother, nor even a woman. Adding to the incongruity is the fact that the 49-year-old Morimatsu now stands accused of being a wife beater.

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This store’s attempt at encouraging students preparing for entrance exams creeps us out

This store’s attempt at encouraging students preparing for entrance exams creeps us out

Ah, it’s almost that time of the year again: the dreaded high school entrance examination season. In Japan, high school and college entrance exams, held in early March before the start of the new school year in April, are the bane of every student’s existence. To get into a top-notch school or university, students need to pass a grueling entrance examination, for which they will study months on end until they essentially become zombie slaves with no social lives.

However, Sofmap, a retailer of new and used electronics in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, is apparently using a different tactic to cheer on stressed-out students before their exams. The following twee, which shows a rather inappropriate sign found in the store, almost makes us question the sanity of the store’s employees.

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Chinese pickpocket technique avoids fingerprints by using chopsticks【Video】

Chinese pickpocket technique avoids fingerprints by using chopsticks【Video】

Pickpockets are famous for their nimble fingers, but the drawback of that approach is that they have to actually get close enough to get their grubby fingers in your pockets. Unless, of course, the pickpockets are using chopsticks to grab the goods. Or at least they are trying to…

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How cute does a girl have to be before she’s forgiven for using a stolen iPhone? This cute

How cute does a girl have to be before she’s forgiven for using a stolen iPhone? This cute

Not so long ago, if you were travelling overseas and someone swiped your bag or camera, you pretty much had until you left the country to crack the caper. Unless you happened to be carrying a cargo of priceless gems in your tote bag, the local authorities weren’t going to coordinate an international search and recovery operation with you once you’re back in your home country.

Things are different now, when so many of the gadgets we take with us on vacation are linked to cloud storage services and social media accounts. Such was the case of one Japanese traveler who goes by the Twitter screen name Matsumoto Hiroki. Matsumoto, who lost his iPhone on a trip to Bangkok, was able to track down the person using it through iCloud, which is when his story got really interesting.

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