weird

Pencils, watermelons, and talks with anime legends – All part of the hiring process at Ghibli

They do things a little differently at Studio Ghibli. Given the feast or famine realities of life in the anime industry, many production houses take on as many projects as they can, but part of the philosophy behind Ghibli’s founding was that if the staff felt like making something, they would, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t. That’s not to say Ghibli’s animators don’t give maximum effort though, which the higher-ups recognize and reward with weekly massages on Saturdays.

Ghibli’s uniqueness isn’t limited to its artistic ideologies and rub-down policies, though. Its interview process for new animators is pretty unorthodox, too, with applicants being asked to complete such tasks as sharpening pencils and slicing up watermelons.

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New Japanese restaurant named はな毛 (nose hair), sighted in Germany, actually has a Japanese owner!

If you’re located outside of Japan, think of some Japanese restaurants around you and chances are their names contain easily recognizable, if uninspired, nouns like “sakura,” “Tokyo,” or “Fuji.” For instance, near me are eateries like Umi, Kaze, Samurai Boston, and countless Teriyaki House’s. One even contains my name, requiring me once in a while to explain that no, I’m not related.

Now, imagine the surprise of one Japanese Twitterer who stumbled upon an okonomiyaki restaurant in Berlin, Germany called “Hanage (はな毛)”, or nasal hair. Mmm, scrumptious!

At first glance, you’d think that this is simply another case of unfortunate word choices by a non-native speaker, like some kanji tattoos or English directions on Asian food packages. Almost as surprising as the bodily reference, however, is the fact that this restaurant was opened by a Japanese woman! To quote one Twitter commenter, “Why? Why? Why?”

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Miffy found trapped in vending machine, may need help from ninja frog to escape

On the surface, being a beloved children’s character might seem like it’s all hugs and smiles. In the harsh world of reality, though, being so soft and cuddly, with no offensive capabilities, can have its downsides.

It was only a week ago, for example, that Sesame Street’s Elmo was discovered tied to a stake in the hinterlands of Japan, his mouth wide open as, we assumed, he screamed for help. Next on the list of cute captives: Dutch storybook bunny Miffy, who was found trapped inside a vending machine.

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Get ‘em while they’re cold! Tokyo restaurant has chilled chicken skewers in collagen blocks

Japan takes skin care pretty seriously. Aside from all the parasols, cosmetic-grade sunscreens, and arsenal of lotions stocked at every drug store, some people look for a skin-beautifying boost in the foods they eat.

Collagen-rich dishes are particularly popular, especially when cooked in a hot pot. But what if you don’t just want food that contains collagen, but globs of it that contain food? Then this Tokyo yakitori restaurant has just the thing with its chicken skewers inside blocks of collagen.

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Something for the weekend? Love doll exhibition opens in Ginza – and yep, it sure looks creepy

“Bored of Tokyo”, you say?! It’s impossible to run out of things to do in Tokyo! Ever-evolving fashion, more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, and hundreds and hundreds of art museums and galleries…

“Oh yeah! Art! Like that erotic gallery in Ginza that’s been taken over by sex dolls for the month of August! Tell me more about that!”

Oh. Well…if you insist.

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Freaky cube shows when anime pillows aren’t terrifyingly pervy, they’re just terrified

Sometimes, anime merchandise gets an unfairly bad rap. Anime figurines aren’t all busty or bikini-clad, for example. Some are actually quite tasteful, built more to show off the characters’ cool costumes or awesome poses than their knockout figures.

Heck, even anime-themed hug pillows, perhaps the skeeviest sector of anime paraphernalia, isn’t 100 percent submissive-looking girls with half their clothes peeled off. For example, this cube-shaped Love Live cushion isn’t even suggestive, it’s just plain weird.

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Realistic stag beetle bread repulses and fascinates us

For a country where rice is eaten at almost every meal, Japan has a surprising number of bakeries and pâtisseries. One stroll down the street of any city and eventually you’re likely to pass by the drifting aroma of freshly-baked bread and other sweet treats. Japanese bakeries aren’t afraid to have a little fun with their pan, either–just check out this Hello Kitty bread, Suica penguin bread, and these, well, rather unfortunate but hilarious attempts at capturing the essence of Doraemon, Totoro, and other popular characters!

Of course, you may want to stay clear of the bread in the above picture unless you’re an aspiring coleopterist (yes, that’s a word) or looking to gross out your younger siblings!

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Fireworks, seaweed, and sake-The unique regional aspects of visiting a grave in Japan

Every year, almost every company in Japan takes about a week off in August. And while some people use this time to travel, attend firework festivals, or just hang out at the beach, the real purpose is Obon, the Japanese holiday during which people go back to their hometown to visit their family grave and offer a prayer to their ancestors, whether distant or recently deceased.

In general, relatives pay their respects all together at the same time, and the associated family reunion keeps the atmosphere from being too somber. Still, in general, the tone is retrained and reserved, as the family prays silently, lights some incense, and leaves a bouquet of flowers.

Unless, that is, they’re in one of the parts of Japan where Obon means bringing a supply of fireworks or seaweed to the grave.

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Try not to eat your fingers while wearing these realistic sushi nails

We’ve seen a lot of cute and especially strange nail art from Japan, but we’ve never seen any that looked this delicious! Ebi, tamago, sake, and many more of our favorite sushi toppings grace the tops of this young woman’s nails, in what will probably make it even harder for chronic nail biters to kick the habit.

More up-close pictures and even more kinds of sushi nails after the jump!

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Subway car decorated with anime idols literally brings fans to their knees in Shanghai

In a lot of ways, hit anime Love Live seems to be been created with laser precision to strike right at the weak points of Japanese otaku. It’s got a cast filled with high school girls in frilly idol singer outfits who all have their own unique hairstyles and quirks, but are without exception earnest, pure, and devoted to their fans above all else.

So it’s no big surprise that we’ve no seen not only Love Live smartphone cases and shoes go on sale in Japan, but also big-ticket items like sports cars inspired by the franchise. The series isn’t just popular in Japan, though, as the bevy of idols are seeing their popularity rise in China as well, as a Shanghai subway decorated with the show’s characters recently brought fans to their knees in reverence.

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Beautiful when she’s angry? TV series features model yelling at the camera, and nothing else

Japanese media seems to be run on the principal that adding attractive women to anything makes it better. Commercial for beer? Cast a high-profile actress. Serious news program? Let’s make a former bikini model the co-host. Posters encouraging people to fill out their census forms? We think they’ll be more effective if we use 75 percent of the space for a picture of a girl with a cute smile.

A new TV program seems set to carry this strategy to its illogical conclusion. Instead of enhancing the appeal of something men generally like or feel indifferent towards, broadcaster TV Tokyo’s idea is to create a miniseries that’s nothing but a good-looking girl chewing out the camera.

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Promotion offers perfect one-week living space for otaku: An apartment pre-stocked with manga

The first time I went apartment hunting in Japan, I was shocked by how bare-bones some of them are. The lack of centralized air conditioning means often you have to go to the appliance store and buy your own AC unit, and oftentimes lighting and even a cooking range aren’t included either.

As a result, it’s always a relief to find an apartment that has any sort of amenities already included. And while a mini fridge or ceiling lamp is a nice freebie, neither one is anywhere near as cool as an apartment that comes pre-stocked with a library of manga.

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Fermented soybean shaved ice pushes the envelope of summertime sweets

One of Japan’s favorite summertime treats is a bowl of shaved ice, or kakigori, as it’s called over here. While the most popular and common flavors are things like strawberry, melon and lemon, every now and again someplace will get really creative, like the restaurant in Kyoto that’s offering shaved ice covered with whiskey.

So now that we have nightcap-style kakigori covered, how about the opposite: a bowl of shaved ice covered with the Japanese breakfast staple natto, also known as fermented soybeans?

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Japanese farmer uses terrifying scarecrow, traumatizes children

Twitter user @amatou320 posted a photo online of a rather, ah, innovative scarecrow on a Japanese farm. If you ask us, it’s far more terrifying than your standard straw-stuffed shirt and it probably elicits some tears from passing children too, but we’re not sure if it will really work on crows…

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Unagi pastries contain no eel, tons of cuteness

Even though I was an extremely finicky eater growing up, my palate has broadened quite a bit since moving to Japan. In the years I’ve spent living in Tokyo and Yokohama, I’ve become convinced that cooking a cut of tuna is the quickest way to ruin its flavor, spicy cod roe makes an excellent pasta sauce, and that chicken cartilage isn’t just something you can eat, but should.

Still, I’m not entirely sold on unagi, or freshwater eel. Honestly, the flavor is surprisingly mild and not unpleasant, but I still have a hard time getting past the mental image of the snake-like appearance for something that, in my opinion, tastes just OK and is a little on the expensive side.

On the other hand, unagi-shaped chocolate pastries make a much more compelling argument.

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Japanese deodorant sheets for ladies smell so nice some guys don’t need the actual girl

For the most part, Japan takes personal hygiene pretty seriously. Combing your hair, putting on makeup, and getting dressed in the proper attire are all seen as essential parts of getting ready to go out in public, and dress codes are a much bigger deal than in some countries.

The standard grooming routine runs into one pretty big problem in the summer, though. Since most people in Japan take a bath at night before going to bed, by the time they arrive at work or school the next day, several hours have passed, during which sweat, oil, and odors can build up on the body. To combat this, there’s a wide variety of fragrances and deodorants available in drug stores, with one brand in particular that’s being described as “the ideal scent for women.”

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Basement Jaxx’s bizarre Japan-based music video freaks us out, makes us want to dance

Sometimes it seems like whenever a Western creator wants to get away with something really over the top and crazy, they just set it in Japan to take advantage of that “those Japanese are sooooo weird” stereotype while simultaneously distancing themselves from criticism.

The latest creators to do this are British electronic dance band Basement Jaxx, who have come up with something really, uh… special.

Before we let you watch, we’ll give you a heads-up that it’s somewhat NSFW-ish, mainly on account of it involving robotic butts twerking. We told you it was bizarre.

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Unlike Japan’s other expensive melons, you can use this cast-iron one to brew tea

You may have heard horror stories about melons in Japan costing 10,000 yen (US $99), but they’re really more the exception than the rule. For their personal use, most people usually choose much cheaper varieties, and the premium stuff only gets purchased as a gift to be given on special occasions.

The price those 10,000-yen melons command has as much to do with their airbrushed centerfold-like unblemished looks as it does their flavor. Sometimes, it feels like a waste to cut them open to get to the edible parts inside, almost as though you’re destroying a piece of art that just happens to look like fruit.

Maybe that’s why someone made just that, with this melon-shaped tea pot.

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Run for your rice! Nagano marathons require runners to lug a sack of grain

Food always seems to taste better right after getting in some exercise. Unfortunately, sometimes a long workout leaves you feeling starving and exhausted, which is a problem when you then have to go foraging for food after you leave the gym.

While I still haven’t found a gym that’ll reward you with a protein-packed steak for breaking your bench press max, or a pool that’ll hook you up with some sashimi after 1,000 meters of backstroke, there actually is a town in Japan that’ll give you a sack of rice for completing a 5K run. The only catch is, you’ve got to carry it with you during the race.

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Crazy new port-o-potty design is the most random thing we’ve seen in a long time

There are all sorts of unwritten etiquette rules around men’s room urinal use. Don’t talk too much, don’t use a urinal next to someone when there are isolated urinals available, don’t compare size, and never, ever, ever make eye contact.

But this insane new port-o-potty design totally ignores all of that, making your odds of peeing next to someone about a 50/50 chance and all but forcing you to gaze into the eyes of another man while you both urinate simultaneously – a situation so specific, unlikely and repulsive that we’re pretty sure there’s not even niche porn for it. And there is niche porn for frikkin’ everything, people.

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