winter

A selection of the finest (amateur) snow sculptures from Japan and China【Photos】

Remember the fun you used to have making snowmen when you were just a little sprout of a kid? Sure, your fingers would get numbed to the bone and your knees would get soaked from kneeling in the snow as you sculpted away for hours. But those little niggles were forgotten once you looked upon your finished masterpiece, before running inside to beg for some spare clothes and a carrot nose to decorate your newest frosty friend. Then he melted and you felt a little abandoned, a little lost, as though a part of your childhood had vanished, eroded like so much evaporated snow… Just me? Anyway, making stuff out of snow is awesome, and if you don’t believe us, check out this gallery of the best cute and wacky snow sculptures from China and Japan!

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Video series of cats with mikan and kotatsu is also a cute survival guide for Japanese winter

Chilly as winter may get in Japan, we’ve got to admit there are some cool things about the coldest part of the year. For example, the Christmas decorations around Tokyo are amazing, and even if you’re not feeling up to braving the cold weather, Japan offers a couple of ways to make winter more bearable even if you’re staying indoors. High on the list are mikan, the mandarin oranges that’re at their tastiest in winter, and kotatsu, the blanket-covered, heater-equipped tables that’re so cozy it’s almost impossible to pull yourself out of one once you get situated comfortably.

Don’t take our word for it, though, as these adorable cats lounging though a Japanese winter serve as far better spokescreatures for mikan and kotatsu than we ever could.

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Dog tummy wraps are all the adorable rage in Japan this winter【Photos】

When Japanese people decide to become pet owners, they really throw themselves into it. Perhaps because of the relative scarcity of pet-friendly apartments in the city, dog owners in particular tend to be either home owners or have slightly higher incomes and can afford to live somewhere that allows them to live with their four-legged pal. For that reason, many pet-owning urbanites think nothing of buying expensive leashes and clothing items for their furry friends or paying exorbitant sums to have their dog shampooed and expertly groomed, and you’ll sometimes even see people riding the trains with their dogs in strollers or designer carriers.

We’re not really ones for dolling our pooches up, and our cats wouldn’t be seen dead in half the outfits that are available online, but this year’s must-have dog fashion item is one that we could definitely got on board with: tummy-warming “haramaki”.

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Pet owners, beware! Cat gets “toasted” by a space heater

Winter has been homing in hard and fast this year, hasn’t it? Two weeks ago a massive snowstorm invaded America, and a cold wave has been sinking into Japan this week, already causing unexpected snowfall two months early in certain parts of the country. It feels almost as if Elsa is throwing a fit because Baymax has been getting more attention lately.

In such unpredictable freezing temperatures, it’s best to stay at home with the heater on so you’ll be warm and dry. All the better if you have a huggable, furry pet at home who wouldn’t mind cuddling up with you. Keep an eye on your pets when you’re using a heater though, or else they might end up like this unfortunate feline who got a pair of charred “wings” on its back!

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Water pipe bursts at Beijing art building, turns everything into a frozen winter wonderland

Nothing kills a great winter vacation more than coming back to find out your pipes have burst. That water can be flowing out of the broken pipe for days before you return home to find you have a new indoor swimming pool. It only has to happen once to forever taint your holidays with an extremely nagging “did we turn the water off?”

With temperatures dipping below zero in many parts of the world, each day is a potential pipe bursting tragedy. However, sometimes two wrongs really do make a right, and the horrible outcome of water soaking everything with Jack Frost blowing through create a really spectacular winter wonderland.

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Adorable Japanese robot gobbles snow, poops ice blocks to keep streets clear【Video】

The Japanese sure do love their robots, don’t they? It seems like every couple of months there’s a new robo-creation being unveiled to the public, sprung from the minds of Japan’s master robotic engineers. Today, we’d like to introduce you to this cute little trundling yellow fella, Yuki Taro! As we all know, winter is coming (we should probably say “winter is here”, but that has less dramatic punch) and with it a flurry of snowstorms and bad weather that can seriously disrupt people’s lives. And who really has the time or energy to shovel snow all day?

Enter Yuki Taro. This snow-gobbling little guy is here to make all your problems melt away – as long as they’re snow-related, that is…

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Cute snowman-pan will bring a little sweet joy to your dreary winter

France may have delicious bread, but Japan has cute bread (even if it doesn’t always turn out as planned). I mean, they are the creators of Anpan-man, after all!

Adding yet another almost-too-cute-to-eat bread treat to the already long list, a bakery called “Cafe Blue Jean” located in the Hotel New Hankyu Osaka, brings us “Snowman-pan.” These seasonal treats are breads, shaped and decorated to look like darling, little snowmen.

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Doting owner builds cosy kotatsu for cats, faces the sting of feline rejection【Photos】

Every cat owner has, at one time or another, experienced the soul-crushing disappointment that comes from giving your cat a thoughtful gift, only to have them throw it back in your face in favor of a paper ball or a plain old cardboard box. It’s almost as if cats the world over are in on some sort of conspiracy designed to make their owners feel inadequate. And that’s exactly what happened to “kitty blogger” Udama when they attempted to create a cosy, cat-sized kotatsu to delight their feline family members. As our pictures show, the experiment didn’t exactly go according to plan…

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Japanese sleep experts say we’ve been using our blankets wrong, help us hate winter a little less

I hate winter. 20-plus years of living in sunny southern California didn’t do anything to help me build up a tolerance for cold weather, and honestly, if I could make like the bears and just gorge myself on salmon for a few weeks and then sleep until spring, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, since hibernation isn’t really an option, I have to rely on a blanket and down comforter to make it through the freezing winter nights. Even still, the cold often leaves me shivering (plus grumbling, cursing, and generally complaining).

As it turns out, though, instead of blaming Old Man Winter for all my discomfort, I’m actually part of the problem, according to Japanese experts who say I’ve been using my comforter and blanket the wrong way.

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Wearable “kotatsu parka” is here to keep your whole body warm this winter

Winter in Japan can be pretty brutal. It gets cold, very cold, and most buildings in Japan are only lightly insulated. It’s no wonder, then, that people (and cats!) tend to want to hibernate in one cosy, warm spot during winter. One option is the kotatsu, a table with a thick padded blanket and heater underneath, which you use to toast your legs and feet during those cold winter months. The only problem is that they don’t really do anything to keep your upper body warm. Some people compensate by also wearing a thick padded housecoat inside during the winter, but wouldn’t it be great if you could use the kotatsu’s warmth to heat your entire body? Well, now you can, thanks to this new “wearable kotatsu” designed by Hatra!

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What’s under Rilakkuma’s suit? Find out for yourself with this insanely cosy onesie

This limited edition 2014 Rilakkuma onesie might just be the most outrageously warm and snuggly thing we have ever seen. It also answers the burning questions that fans of the character have been wrestling with for years: if Rilakkuma is a bear, why does he wear a bear suit? Is he even a bear at all?

Sure, you could wrap yourself in a blanket to keep warm this winter. Or, you could become Rilakkuma with this luxurious loungewear. Wrap yourself up from head to toe in furry goodness, and solve the mysteries of the cartoon bear universe at the same time.

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$2.34!? Cheapest bullet-train ride in Japan lasts 3 minutes, but memories are forever【Photos】

Ask anyone in Japan if they love the shinkansen, and they’ll probably say yes. Commonly known as the bullet train, it’s convenient, handsomely designed, and the train’s aerodynamic nose is surprisingly an artisanal masterpiece, carefully formed by hand out of numerous metal plates in order to achieve the perfect curves.

Becoming a conductor of one is a typical kindergarten dream, and while a lot of kids grow out of that phase, some emerge as bona fide train fanatics who go by many monikers: tetsu-ota, tetchan, tetsu-kichi (as in “crazy”), you name it. Unfortunately, travel by shinkansen may be fast and luxurious, but it’s generally not cheap—for example, a three-hour one-way ride from Tokyo to Ōsaka can cost around 14,300 yen (US $140).

So what’s this about a 240-yen ticket in Nīgata Prefecture that has train enthusiasts all abuzz? A seasonal train station that’s actually part of a ski resort? A place called “Cowabunga” 125 miles north of Tokyo? Let comedian and self-declared train otaku, Ayako Suzukawa, be your guide today!

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South Korea protests Olympic figure skating result over biased judging

The South Korean Olympic Committee has filed an official protest of the result of the women’s figure skating event at the Olympics over ‘biased judging,’ according to the Associated Press.

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How to beat the cold using nothing but a single sweater: A winter guide

In many parts of the world, the winter of 2013/2014 has been an especially brutal one. Record low temperatures and snowfalls have left millions searching for relief. Luckily, the guys at Japanese humour site Omocoro have been hard at work finding new ways to ride out the rest of this freezing season.

In fact, their writer Sebuyama feels that he may have found the ultimate self-warming method using only a single sweater and absolutely nothing else. The following is what he found, but beware: this winter guide is not safe for work… unless your work involves looking at large amounts of man-flesh.

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Are 100 adhesive warmers enough to take on a Tokyo snow storm?

In one of the most vicious cases of deja vu we’ve had in decades, the twin of the massive snowstorm that dumped on Japan last weekend swung through the country with another few inches of snow on Friday. Unfortunately, in Tokyo at least, we also got enough rain to melt half of the snow, turning everything into a freezing, wet mess. Ah, winter!

As you can imagine, quite a few people are taking the opportunity to lock themselves inside and practice their “brrrrrrr” faces. But not the esteemed writers on the Japanese side of RocketNews24! They decided the snow was the best environment to find out if 100 adhesives warmers work as well as a coat. See the awkward results of the test below!

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Feeling the bitter cold? This adorable heater will keep you warm in style!

We may be in the dead of winter here in Japan, but no one wants to be left shivering with cold, right? Well, you can always buy a heater to solve that problem, which is what many people in Japan do, especially if they don’t want to freeze in the bathroom on a cold winter morning before getting into the shower (or bath), as most homes here don’t have central heating. Unfortunately, heaters can take up space, and they usually don’t make for attractive home decor. But, if you’re having second thoughts about purchasing a heater for those reasons, then this carbon heater may be the perfect product for you! Who would have thought that a simple heater could be … well, so darn cute?

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Five of Japan’s most unique snow-covered hot spring bathing sites

If you’ve ever experienced a soak in a hot outdoor spring, or rotenburo, in the middle of the snow, you’ll know the incredible sensation of extreme cold and heat on your body is an experience that’s hard to beat. With the best of the snow still to come in January and February, we’ve found five of the best snow-covered hot spring destinations perfect for a weekend getaway. From water slides to goblin masks, this collection of winter snowscapes will help you beat the winter chill in the most unique way possible.

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Japanese cat owner illustrates the many sleeping positions of our feline friends

As winter grows deeper and colder, the bed is one of our safe havens of warmth and comfort. The same can be said for our feline companions that snuggle into bed with us to seek refuge from the winter chill. As they cuddle up to our warm bodies the cats morph into various and interesting positions. Have you experienced the same with your own cat? Check out these adorable pictures and compare!

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Turkish cold snap literally freezes animals where they stand

It appears that Turkey is one of the few parts of the world that gets so cold it’s not an exaggeration to say, “It’s freezing out here.”

The video below depicts some donkeys found in a small village that have cartoonishly frozen in place due to the extreme cold weather and snow – a phenomena we thought only possible in Christmas-time claymation films, and the closest thing we know of to the exact opposite of China’s hellish summer heatwave that caused cars to explode.

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Keep your tea warm with Thermos ala Japanese style!

Winter is closing in on Japan, with recent temperatures dropping as low as three degrees Celsius in central Tokyo. When it comes to keeping food and beverages warm on a day out, the all-familiar Thermos brand comes to mind.

The globally famous makers of possibly the best vacuum flasks in the world have been keeping our soups and coffees warm for more than a century, but this year, their Japanese counterparts are taking a step further to warm the hearts and drinks of the locals in the style of a Japanese teacup!

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